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Santos will reduce its production emissions with an Australian-first rollout of 100 per cent renewable energy to power its oil well operations in the remote Cooper Basin in South Australia and Queensland, following a grant from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

The project to convert beam pumps on oil wells to solar and batteries at 56 sites will cost just over $16 million, with ARENA contributing $4.2 million or about 25 per cent.

The grant is being made under the Advancing Renewables Program that supports a broad range of development, demonstration and pre-commercial deployment projects with the potential to provide affordable and reliable renewable energy in Australia.

A pilot solar beam pump has been continuously operating since August, proving that solar PV and batteries can maintain reliability and availability in the harsh environment of the Cooper Basin.

Following the successful pilot, this project is the next step towards commercialising the technology by providing adequate scale to achieve supply chain and execution synergies and trial multiple vendors to reduce unit costs.

Santos Managing Director and CEO Kevin Gallagher thanked ARENA for supporting this Australian-first, which was the idea of Santos’ Energy Solutions team – a unit dedicated to finding innovative ways to prepare the business for a lower-carbon future.

“The solar beam pump will reduce emissions and waste from oil production, saving 140 barrels of oil per day which is required to fuel the pumps, and instead will be sold for beneficial use,” Mr Gallagher said.

“Our own consumption of fuel in the Cooper Basin is equivalent to about five per cent of east coast domestic gas demand, so if we can extend our use of renewables to our gas operations, we can also free up more natural gas for sale, which is a good way to put downward pressure on gas prices.”

“The solar beam pump is also a perfect demonstration of Santos’ strategy to become Australia’s safest, lowest cost onshore operator in action,” Mr Gallagher said.

“Renewables will help reduce costs over time not only by cutting our fuel consumption, but also by eliminating the costs of transporting fuel by road over long distances to our wells.”

If this initial rollout is successful in commercialising the technology, Santos will look to convert all 208 beam pumps across the Cooper Basin to solar and batteries.

Santos is also actively pursuing a carbon capture, utilisation and storage project in the Cooper Basin and a heat recovery project at Moomba to cut emissions, demonstrating our commitment to a lower-carbon future.