Viva Energy has sought permission from an Australian state panel to approve its plan to build a LNG import terminal in the Port of Geelong, Victoria to address the anticipated gas shortage in south-east Australia, reported Reuters.

Planned to be commissioned in 2024, the proposed project is intended to bring natural gas from various locations in Australia and overseas.

The A$300m ($210m) project will include a floating gas terminal, an extension to on a pier at Viva’s Geelong oil refinery near Mel bourne, a new pipeline, and a treatment facility.

The extension of the existing refinery pier is intended to provide an additional berth for a permanently moored floating storage and regasification unit (FSRU), which will have capacity to receive LNG imports from visiting vessels.

Reuters cited Viva as saying to an environmental impact inquiry that a FSRU could help in addressing energy crisis ‘that is likely, if not inevitable’.

In a final submission to the inquiry, which ended on 5 August 2022, following seven-week hearings, Viva Energy said: “The risk is too great for the opportunity to be squandered.”

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The panel will now assess over 2,000 submissions, which mostly includes oppositions to the Viva’s project over concerns about its prolonged fossil fuels use, water quality, LNG import terminal’s safety, among others.

An advice will then be provided by the inquiry panel to Victoria’s planning minister within a period of six weeks over the proposed project.

Subsequently, the minister is required to announce a decision on the project within 30 days.

Geelong Grammar, which environmental action team that voiced opposition to the gas terminal project, said project’s environmental studies conducted by Viva were inadequate and rushed.

Geelong Grammar’s lawyer Adrian Finanzio was cited by the news agency as saying to the panel: “In essence, Viva is asking the committee for an environmental blank cheque, which the committee should not sign.”

Viva’s lawyer Stuart Morris told the panel that the company would implement measures, which would be recommended by the state’s Environmental Protection Authority, to reduce potential impact by the project.

In emailed comments to Reuters, state energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio said: “We continue to engage with companies such as Viva about the role gas import terminals could play in that future.”