A big Kimberley rally was held in Perth, Western Australia, by people opposed to a Kimberley gas refinery and industrial port (November, 2010)
Basin gas field off Western Australia's (WA's) north coast is
estimated to contain 35 trillion cubic feet of gas. Woodside Petroleum Ltd and
its joint venture partners - Shell, Chevron, BP and BHP Billiton - want to
process the gas to LNG for export to Asia. The
proposed gas processing site for the Browse LNG Joint Venture is James Price
Point, 50km north of Broome on the Kimberley
coast, Western Australia.
The project is estimated to cost $30-40 billion.
The Kimberley is recognised as one of the world's
great unspoiled marine and terrestrial environments - a unique and highly
valued region with outstanding biological diversity, cultural richness and
scenic grandeur. The proposed gas refinery site is in the middle of the world's
largest Humpback whale nursery. The gas refinery and industrial port is opposed
by environment groups, Traditional Owners, tourism operators and local
communities due to its massive social and environmental impacts.
2008 the WA Premier Colin Barnett announced James Price Point as the location
for the Browse Joint Venture project. This announcement pre-empted the ongoing bilateral
(State-Federal government) environmental assessment process which was set up to
study the impacts of the proposed refinery and associated port.
political interference was followed up by Federal Resources Minister Martin
Ferguson who in late 2009 placed conditions on the gas leases of the Browse LNG
Joint Venture partners that forces them to start developing the James Price
Point location well before the State and Federal environmental impact
assessment process is completed.
September 2010 Premier Barnett formally commenced compulsory acquisition
proceedings covering just over 10,000 hectares of lands and sea under Aboriginal
Native Title claim. This government land grab covers about three times the area
the Premier originally said would be acquired. The decision to compulsorily
acquire land ignores the previous requirement for the ‘informed consent' of
Traditional Owners to the project and increases fear and mistrust of Government
and the proposed development.
what must happen
approached to assist with financing the Browse LNG Joint Venture should refuse
to support this highly risky, socially divisive and environmentally disastrous
NGOs should alert their networks about this upcoming project and encourage
their members to write to banks which are potential financiers, voicing their opposition.
Western Australia should put its resources
behind industries which value the unique natural and cultural features of the Kimberley and have greater
potential to generate local jobs and prosperity, such as tourism, instead of
promoting environmentally destructive and unsustainable oil and gas
developments in a globally significant region.
proposed LNG project near Broome will cause major long term social and economic
impacts on Broome and throughout the Dampier
Peninsula. These impacts
range from increased recreational fishing pressure to the transformation of
Broome into a fly-in, fly-out industry town. As has been witnessed in other
mining towns, housing and other living costs are likely to increase
tonnes of noxious gases such as benzene, hexene and tollulene will be discharged
over the life of these projects. Acid rain produced from the flaring of gases
during exploration drilling, production and processing is also a major source
of industrial pollution and greenhouse emissions.
occur through venting of carbon dioxide (CO2) removed from the reservoir; from
transport of gas from the reservoir to the plant; from LNG processing and from
combustion sources used to supply energy for LNG processing.
noxious atmospheric and marine pollutants will be routinely generated from
operations including drilling, blasting, dredging, flaring, ballast water etc.
Some of the
atmospheric pollutants - which could blow over Broome and other communities -
include: nitrogen dioxides, sulphur dioxide, volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
like benzene, toluene (methylbenzene), xylene and hydrogen sulfide, as well as
carcinogens like benzapyrene and dioxin.
The Kimberley coastal and
marine environment is globally significant as one of the most pristine left in
the world, second only to the polar regions. The region is a refuge for
thousands of native animal and plant species, many of them now endangered.
sheltered waters are home to the world's largest Humpback population and it is
here that they calve and mate. The impacts and risks of industrialisation are
to the Australian government's Humpback Whale Recovery Plan (2005 - 2010),
critical habitat for the whales in Australia
includes, "The southern Kimberley
between Broome and the northern end of Camden Sound". This ‘critical habitat
zone' includes James Price Point.
to the Humpback whale recovery plan, the most serious threats to whales in
Australian waters are:
pollution - e.g. shipping; seismic surveys;
injury and death from ship strike;
structures - e.g. ports, marinas and wharves;
water quality and pollution - e.g. oil or chemical spills;
- e.g. sedimentation, turbidity.
all of these threats to the Kimberley's
Humpback whales would apply if James Price Point were developed for LNG.
concerns apply to a wide range of other endangered and/or protected marine and
terrestrial species and their habitats found in the James Price Point region,
including; Dugong, Pygmy blue whale, Freshwater sawfish, four sea turtle
species (Flatback, Green, Loggerhead and Hawksbill), Snubfin dolphin, seagrass
beds, coral reefs and filter feeder communities and fish aggregation areas.
remnant rainforest patches (or ‘Monsoon Vine Thickets') - a WA-listed
Threatened Ecological Community, have barely been studied. Several hundred
hectares of this very important ecosystem would be destroyed by the gas hub
addition, the only two studies looking at threatened terrestrial fauna species
at James Price Point have been unable to determine whether or not as many 46
threatened and protected species are present in the area. This includes
‘iconic' species such as the Bilby.
national and international importance of the dinosaur footprints found on the Dampier Peninsula, including in the vicinity of James
Price Point, is only just coming to light, owing to the work of Dr Tony
"The Dampier Peninsula coast has provided practically the entire fossil
record of dinosaurs in the western half of the Australian continent...There are
at least 15 types of dinosaur tracks representing every major group of the
Dinosauria...they face the greatest risk of damage or degradation if industrial
development is allowed to proceed at James Price Point."
Under Article 32 of the UN
Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,
"States shall consult and cooperate
in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own
representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent
prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and
other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilisation
or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources."
Australian being a signatory to this international convention, in September
2010 Premier Barnett formally commenced compulsory acquisition proceedings
covering just over 10,000 hectares of land and seas under Aboriginal Native
Title claim. The decision to compulsorily acquire land ignores the requirement
for free, prior and informed consent of Traditional Owners and increases fear
and mistrust of Government and the proposed development.
LNG Strategic Assessment Agreement was signed in February 2008 by the State and
Federal governments. Under the Strategic Assessment Agreement a process was to
be undertaken to produce a Strategic Assessment Report ("SAR").
Strategic Assessment Agreement had three central ‘pillars':
i Thorough environmental and social
impact studies and assessment;
examination of Browse LNG processing options outside the Kimberley;
iii Indigenous consent.
these three pillars has now been subverted by the WA Premier Colin Barnett and
Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson:
upon election, Premier Barnett decreed that the gas hub would be built in the Kimberley, pre-empting
the outcomes of the strategic assessment process.
to the politically motivated haste in seeking approval for a Kimberley site, the required scientific
studies in this remote, biodiverse and little-studied area simply cannot be
conducted in the time available to a level that would allow either government
to make a ‘safe' decision to approve the development.
examination of feasible sites outside the Kimberley
has not occurred. Locations such as Karratha and Port Hedland have been
dismissed on grounds that apply just as strongly or more so in the Kimberley, e.g. air
pollution, coastal location issues and port development concerns. Meanwhile,
the environmental, social and economic benefits of those ‘brownfields'
locations have been downplayed despite several of the joint venture companies
themselves clearly wanting such options to remain open.
Resources Minister Martin Ferguson placed legal conditions on the renewal of
the gas leases held by the LNGjoint venture partners which force them to
prioritise investment in the Kimberley
(James Price Point) location, before this location has been assessed or
WA Premier recently announced compulsory acquisition of the James Price Point
land which is currently under Aboriginal native title claim.
In April 2013 it was announced that Woodside Petroleum had put the project on hold. The company said the decision to put off the project was a commercial one.
Dec 06, 2010
LNG Joint Venture is made up of: Woodside Petroleum (49%); BP (16%); BHP Billiton
(16%); Chevron (9.5%) and Shell (9.5%).
The James Price Point location is being strongly pushed by Woodside's departing
CEO Don Voelte, the Premier of Western Australia, Colin Barnett, and the
Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson.
has been growing disquiet from several of the Browse Joint Venture partners due
to concerns about social, economic and technical issues associated with the proposed
location. Both Shell and BHP Billiton have recently voiced those concerns
publicly in the media.
September 2010, BHP Billiton CEO Michael Yeager said that the Browse project
was yet to reach the "concept selection" stage. At BHP's annual general
meeting in November, Chairman Jac Nasser said the Kimberley site faced "technical and
other issues" and BHP would not progress with any project that "compromised
its standards and values".
September, Shell Australia chairwoman Ann Pickard told WA BusinessDay that
Woodside needed to be careful not to ''back stakeholders into a corner''
following moves by the West Australian government to seize (‘compulsorily
acquire') the land from its Aboriginal Native Title claimants.
The Browse Joint
Venture has not received environmental approval from the Australian Federal
Government to construct and operate a gas refinery and industrial port at James
Price Point. Without this approval the project cannot proceed.
The following companies are involved in Woodside Petroleum’s gas refinery:
BHP Billiton plc
- international -
- profile BHP Billiton is the world's largest diversified natural resources company. It occupies significant positions in major commodity businesses, including aluminium, energy coal and metallurgical coal, copper, manganese, iron ore, uranium, nickel, silver and titanium minerals. It has substantial interests in oil, gas, liquefied natural gas and diamonds.