Santos first proposed to build the Barossa offshore gas project north of Darwin and the Tiwi Islands in 2018 and has faced fierce opposition ever since.

The Barossa gas project is one of the biggest new coal and gas project proposals in Australia. Barossa gas would emit 401 million tonnes of carbon dioxide pollution over its lifetime, equivalent to 80% of Australia’s total emissions in 2020.

The Barossa project would fuel climate change and harm nature.

Australia would be much better off focusing on wind and solar-powered climate solutions to secure a better future for all of us.

Where is the Barossa gas project located?

Santos wants to extract gas from the Barossa gas field in the Timor Sea north of Darwin and the Tiwi Islands.

The gas extracted offshore would be transported almost 300km to the Australian mainland via underwater pipelines.

Once onshore, the gas would be processed and exported for sale overseas.

Underwater gas pipeline

Gas extracted at Barossa would travel almost 300km across the Timor Sea in pipelines.

Who is Santos?

Santos is a South Australian gas extraction company. Santos, along with gas giant Woodside, are the two biggest Australian-owned climate polluters.

At every stage of its gas operations, Santos is polluting our climate. Processing, extracting and burning gas all dump carbon emissions into our atmosphere.

Most of the gas that Santos extracts is exported overseas. This is still dangerous for our climate. Gas burnt overseas fuels extreme weather events and nature destruction in Australia.

Santos’s gas is fuelling climate change and more frequent, more widespread and more severe extreme weather events across Australia like droughts, heatwaves, fires, storms and floods.

At the same time, Santos is currently enjoying windfall profits from gas, while paying little tax.

Why does the Barossa project keep being delayed?

From the outset, uncertainty has plagued Santos’s Barossa gas project.

A major reason for this is that the Barossa project is not compatible with a net zero future, and this has significantly impacted Santos’s ability to secure financial investment.

The International Energy Agency has made clear that to achieve a net zero pathway, no more new gas projects can be built. The major foreign investor in the Barossa project has threatened to cut more than half a billion dollars in funding unless the project’s emissions were cut.

Tiwi Traditional Owner opposition and public opposition to the Middle Arm gas hub, have also delayed the Barossa project and cast further uncertainty over its future.

Why was Santos taken to Court over its Barossa project?

Tiwi traditional owner Simon Munkara took Santos to Federal Court over its Barossa gas project and won.

Santos’s planned underwater gas pipeline would be within 7 kilometres of the Tiwi Islands.

If it was built, the pipeline would damage burial sites on the sea floor, dreaming tracks and songlines.

The court’s ruling has forced Santos to delay construction on the relevant section of the pipeline until the hearing of the full case in 2024.

Tiwi Traditional Owners say that Santos has never consulted their community about the Barossa gas project. Santos has made some progress on this front in 2023.

How is Barossa connected to the Middle Arm gas hub?

Middle Arm is a proposed gas hub in Darwin and it would be used to process the gas Santos extracts from the Barossa gas field.

The Australian Government, which has provided $1.5 billion in taxpayer money to Middle Arm, is under growing pressure to ensure the facility is only used for clean energy, and not climate pollutants like gas.

If Middle Arm is not allowed to process gas, this would cause some difficulties for Santos to export and sell overseas the gas it extracts from Barossa.

How will the Barossa gas project harm nature?

The extraction, processing and burning of gas via the Barossa gas project would drive climate change, which is harming Australian nature.

The Barossa gas project would fuel further coral bleaching of the Greater Barrier Reef and extreme weather events like fires and floods that wipe out critical habitat for threatened species like the Northern Quoll, Swift Parrot, Platypus and many more.

There would also be direct impacts on marine life. The gas pipeline connecting Barossa gas to Middle Arm would cut through the Oceanic Shoals Marine Park’s habitat protection zone, destroying critical habitat.

A blowout from drilling for gas or a ship collision could cause an oil spill harming local nature.

How will the Barossa gas project drive climate change?

Over its lifetime, Santos’s Barossa gas project would create around 401 million tonnes of CO2 emissions. For every tonne of liquified natural gas (LNG) produced, Barossa is expected to produce 1.4 tonnes of CO2-e, triple the level of other similar gas projects.

Gas flare

How will Barossa fuel climate destruction?

Gas, like coal, is a fossil fuel and when it is burnt it pollutes our climate.

Gas releases a greenhouse gas called methane, which is especially dangerous. Methane stays in the atmosphere for a much shorter time than carbon dioxide but is more potent. Over a two-year period, it is up to 86 times as potent as carbon dioxide. It's for this reason that the UN says slashing methane is the quickest way to mitigate rising temperatures.

For a safe climate and a prosperous, secure future, we need to transition from coal and gas to reliable, firmed-renewable energy, fast. And the good news is that renewables already produce about four times the amount of Australia's electricity than gas does while slashing pollution. We just need to build more renewable projects in a way that's good for nature so we can close existing coal and gas plants, and stop new coal and gas.

Australian Conservation Foundation