The Federal Government has quietly launched its draft bill  to regulate the burial of carbon dioxide off Australia coast just days after BP and Rio Tinto have confirmed that  they have abandoned a $2 billion project to trial the burial of carbon dioxide off Western Australia.

The joint project was to involve the construction of a coal-based "hydrogen energy" power plant at Kwinana, south of Perth, to produce 500MW of electricity – enough for 500,000 homes. The resultant carbon dioxide was to have been buried in geological strata between Fremantle and Rottnest Island. After two years of investigation, BP has discovered that this geological formation contains "chimneys" which means that it would be impossible to prevent the gas from escaping.

The $2 billion project would have been the biggest of its kind in the world.

Dr Peter Cook, the Chief Executive Officer of the Co-operative Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas said “While it would have been nice to see the Kwinana project get off the ground, we do not see geosequestration in the Perth Basin as a write off because of this one setback and I don’t think the companies involved are walking away from the technology either, they’re certainly still involved with the CO2CRC in other areas. It has to be put in a global context and there are quite a few other projects that are moving ahead, including the Otway Basin project in Victoria. As well as the Perth Basin, in WA we’re also looking at a number of onshore areas, including an area known as the Harvey Ridge in the South West.”