Middle Arm Mythbusting

There’s a lot of disinformation about Middle Arm going around – find out the facts below.

Will Middle Arm be a sustainable project?

The Middle Arm project has been subject to a greenwashing campaign that simply doesn’t stack up. It’s fundamentally unsustainable.

In documentation submitted to the NT Environmental Protection Authority in January 2022, the NT Government included the following industries in its list of proposed industries for the project: “Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), ammonia and derivatives, urea and derivatives, ethylene and derivatives, methanol and derivatives, gas to liquids (GTL), hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, minerals processing, advanced manufacturing, support service industries.”

Documentation submitted by the NT Government to Infrastructure Australia in 2023 suggests that the three-quarters of project site will be used by industries that rely on gas feedstock.

No amount of greenwashing can hide the fact that this is a gas project.

Read more: Darwin’s ‘sustainable’ Middle Arm development is key to huge fossil fuel projects, documents show | Northern Territory | The Guardian

Will Middle Arm create the jobs and state revenue that the Territory needs?

The reality is that the gas sector does not actually support widespread job creation, state revenues, or economic growth in the Territory.

A 2023 report by the Australia Institute found that for every $100m in output, the gas sector creates only .2 jobs. By comparison, tourism, health and education each create 8 jobs for each $100m in output. The gas sector only employs .7% of the NT workforce.

In the 2021 financial year, the two largest gas projects in the Territory, Santos’ Darwin LNG and Inpex’s Ichthys, contributed very little to state revenue. Santos paid just 4.6% of its imocme in company tax, while Inpex paid no tax. As both facilities use gas sources from outside the NT, neither pay anything in royalties.

We need a sustainable vision for the Territory’s future, than ensures quality jobs, energy security and future-ready skills – read more about our Recharge the Territory Plan.

Read more: The economic impacts of gas development in the Northern Territory - The Australia Institute

Can carbon capture and storage make this project climate safe?

The sustainability claims of the Middle Arm Industrial Precinct all hinge on a proposed multi-user carbon capture and storage (CCS) hub. This facility would aggregate carbon dioxide from different sources and transport them offshore for subsea “storage” (initially at Santos’ depleted Bayu Undan field, and then the Petrel sub-basin, where Inpex is undertaking exploration there).

The CCS component of the Middle Arm Industrial Precinct, far from making the project ‘sustainable’, will actually enable the expansion of dangerous fossil fuel industries, using CCS as a justification.

The CCS technology proposed is unproven at scale, but even if the promised amount of CO2 is successfully captured and stored, CCS would be only offset a small proportion of the life cycle emissions of new fossil fuel projects. There is too much we don’t know about large-scale, long-term storage of CO2 beneath the sea – we’re putting a lot at risk if we rely on it.

Read more: Deep Trouble: The Risks of Offshore Carbon Capture and Storage (November 2023) - Center for International Environmental Law (ciel.org)

Is Middle Arm undergoing a rigorous environmental assessment process?

Authorised by K. Howey, Environment Centre NT, 3/98 Woods Street, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia.