A South Korean Company Said a Natural Gas Project Was ‘CO2-Free.’ It’s Being Accused of ‘Greenwashing’

South Korea’s largest private gas provider SK E&S Co. is facing legal action from a climate activist group alleging that it falsely advertised the green credentials of a project in Australia.

Solutions for Our Climate said it’s bringing a claim against SK for labeling liquefied natural gas from its Barossa project off the northern coast of Australia as “CO2-free.” While SK claims to capture greenhouse gases produced while making LNG, it’s only partially removing emissions from the process and not doing anything about CO2 released when the gas is burned, which is where the vast majority of emissions come from, the group said.
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SK will use carbon capture and sequestration to eliminate 60% of its share of the emissions from the project, which amounts to 4 million tons a year, and will grow forests to offset the rest, Kim Hyejin, communications executive officer at SK E&S, said by phone.

“As a major LNG supplier in South Korea, we’re trying our best to stay responsible by actively investing in clean technology such as CCS to help reduce emissions and be part of the transition toward net zero,” Kim said.

As environmentalists all over the globe increasingly resort to legal remedies against fossil fuel providers, this is the first South Korean claim against any company regarding its emission. Earlier this year, Royal Dutch Shell Plc was ordered to cut emissions faster than planned, while Australia’s Santos Ltd. was challenged by an activist group for making a misleading net-zero pledge.

“There is no such thing as ‘CO2-free LNG,’” Oh Dongjae, a researcher at SFOC, said in the statement. “SK E&S has oversold its CCS technology as a silver bullet.”

See also: ‘Carbon Neutral’ LNG Demand Soars in Asia Despite Criticism

Seoul-based SFOC said it’s taking the case to the Korea Fair Trade Commission and the Ministry of Environment, which will decide whether to go forward with an investigation.

SK will spend $1.4B to develop the Barossa Caldita gas fields, where it holds a 37.5% interest. According to SK, it plans to make 1.3 Million Tons of LNG each year for the next 20 years starting in 2025. The company also stated that carbon-capture technology will be used to extract CO2 from its LNG plants and inject it into an adjacent marine waste gas field.

The technology will reduce emissions by about 2.1million tons per year if it works. It said that 11.4 million tonnes more of carbon dioxide will be released each year, mostly due to the burning and transporting fuel across oceans.


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