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TasPorts - Hydrogen


Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 1 December 2022

Tags: TasPorts, Hydrogen

Ms O'CONNOR - All right, thank you. The annual report notes that TasPorts has a renewable energy hub initiative at Bell Bay, and it notes that an options agreement was signed by Twiggy Forrest's Fortescue Future Industries, and that there were other discussions with interested parties.

What other work has TasPorts done - and this might be one for the minister, but it is also operational - to support the renewable energy hub? It is called an initiative, so presumably there are more discussions to be had.

Mr FERGUSON - Thank you, Ms O'Connor. My earlier answer to Mr Wood gave a good insight into FFI's ambitions at Bell Bay - but you are quite right to ask, because there is a lot of other interest. Allow me to ask the CEO to respond as much as he is able to, noting that quite a lot of this will be commercial interest. I am not sure how much of it is intended to be public.

Mr DONALD - Thank you, minister. We have quite a large land footprint in Bell Bay as part of our industrial site. That is quite attractive to a number of renewable energy proponents, through a number of areas one being hydrogen proponents - and there are quite a number that we have been in discussion with. In addition, we are providing interactions with a number of organisations - more than half a dozen - who are interested in utilising our land for offshore windfarms.

Ms O'CONNOR - Okay. We would like some offshore windfarms; that would be good.

Mr DONALD - We are also in discussion with other proponents, which I would probably have to take some advice on with respect to confidentiality. I am sure whether we have entered into any confidentiality agreements, but there is another group.

Ms O'CONNOR - I imagine that would be the organisation from Fingal Hydrogen Ready Carbon, or whatever it is called, that wants to turn coal into hydrogen?

Mr DONALD - That was not the group that I was thinking about.

Ms O'CONNOR - Okay, thank you.

Mr BRADFORD - There are highly strategic plans on the development of lands at Bell Bay, because it is a large landholding for port purposes. The CEO is leading a review of that, seeing who is best placed to occupy that land to be of benefit to TasPorts and Tasmania.

Mr DONALD - I might add that our objective is to provide common user facilities, so that we do not preclude any one proponent in particular to get access to our port. However, I would imagine and hope that there will be specific tenancy agreements executed on the industrial land, which will provide a particular close proximity to the working part of the port - but again, it is through common user facilities within our port infrastructure, which I think is really important. We are working very closely with the Office of the Coordinator-General.

Mr BRADFORD - Regarding Dr Broad's earlier question about staffing and what type of people we are bringing into the organisation, that is part of it as well, as you develop Tasports, its lands and its operations to benefit everybody.

Ms O'CONNOR - At the moment, the port master plan, as we understand it, has a very heavy focus on forestry and mining industries. Where is the space for the renewables hub?

Mr BRADFORD - On the vacant land. It is broadly put in the 30-year vision of the type of industry, but it is not black and white, locked in concrete.

Ms O'CONNOR - With the access to the land that makes up that footprint of TasPort's land, was there a tender process for the lands that Fortescue Future Industries are interested in, or was it an arrangement because FFI had approached TasPorts? How does it work?

Mr DONALD - We had interactions with a number of proponents. FFI at that particular time were the only ones who were interested in the export of product through our ports. Being a port owner and operator, our primary objective is to facilitate trade through our ports.

Ms O'CONNOR - But they just approached? It was an unsolicited approach from FFI? It was not a process or particular parcel of land that was available? FFI kind of gets a special deal because they are on the spot and come to TasPorts?

Mr DONALD - At that point no one was interested in our land to enable exporting of products through our ports.

Ms O'CONNOR - Did you think about opening it up through a wider process?

Mr DONALD - We were talking to a long list of proponents who made very clear statements to us that their interest initially was for domestic supply within Tasmania only. Being a port owner and operator, it was clear to us that we exist - particularly in and around Bell Bay - to support the movement of freight and export products.

Ms O'CONNOR - Does FFI have a lease on the land?

Mr BRADFORD - Port land must be used for port-related purposes. The benefit is the lease per square metre and the throughput of wharfage, the tonnage, the tugs, the pilots.

Ms O'CONNOR - Just one last question. I am trying to get an understanding of what the options agreement with Fortescue gives them, and what the return is to Tasmania.

Mr DONALD - We have an options agreement in place with Fortescue, which provides them with an opportunity to continue to negotiate with us on what that might look like moving forward, in terms of a development agreement and a lease agreement.

Ms O'CONNOR - To the exclusion of others?

Mr DONALD - Yes, and it is a confidential agreement. There are some particular conditions.

Ms O'CONNOR - Who placed the conditions - TasPorts or Fortescue?

Mr DONALD - TasPorts. Well, it is via agreement. However, I am particularly proud of the way in which my team have planned and prepared and executed what I believe to be a very rigorous negotiation with a highly intelligent organisation. Again, a credit to my team in particular.

Mr BRADFORD - A great outcome. We have other land available for others to pick up the phone.