Woodside Petroleum and the WA Premier want to turn Broome into an oil and gas town by building gas refineries on the coast at James Price Point (JPP), 40km north of Cable Beach.
Woodside Petroleum has joint venture partners Shell, MIMI, Petrochina and BP in the project who are reluctant to go to the Kimberley but have been forced into it by the WA Premier and Federal Minister Martin Ferguson.
WA’s annual greenhouse gas emissions are around 80mtpa now; if James Price Point goes ahead it would increase emissions by 50%. This would be an extraordinary 39 million tonnes a year of greenhouse gases – equivalent to five per cent of Australia’s total greenhouse gas emissions now, or more than all of New Zealand’s total annual greenhouse gas emissions
Analysis by economic analysts JP Morgan and Citigroup has shown that the main advantage of going to JPP versus existing facilities in the Pilbara is that gas processing could start 3 years quicker – but delays are already whittling away at this timeframe.
WHAT IT WOULD MEAN FOR THE KIMBERLEY
New gas refineries and an industrial port in the Kimberley would lead to heavy industry proliferating across one of the world’s largest intact natural areas:
“Just as the Pilbara was critically important to the development of WA from the ’60s, over the next 50 years the Kimberley will play a similar role…
…The gas belongs to Australia, it’s in Commonwealth waters,” he says. ”The land belongs to WA and – I think the Federal Government is aligned with what I’m saying – the Browse gas will be developed in the Browse. It will not come south. It would be cheaper in a short-term sense. But in the long term, no…”
Premier Colin Barnett Sydney Morning Herald, Sept 5, 2010.
Broome has a resident population of about 15,000 and around 1,500 locals joined a no-gas community rally last year.
In terms of social impact, imagine what the arrival of up to 8,000 workers will do for the local community – from pressure on housing availability and skyrocketing rents, to crowding out fishing spots and ruining the image of unspoiled coastline that is central to the Kimberley/Broome tourism brand, the impact would be huge.
THERE IS AN ALTERNATIVE
The joint venture partners would prefer to pipe to the Pilbara where existing
facilities could process the gas. Environment groups support the Pilbara option rather than building a new industrial port and gas refinery in the middle of humpback whale calving grounds which would have to be blasted and dredged for kilometres out to sea. The 30km² industrial site would lead to the destruction of rare remnant rainforest and surrounding woodlands home to endangered animals such as the bilby.
ROLE OF THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT
The Australian Government has the final say on the proposal and Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke is expected to make a decision in mid 2012. The Prime Minister will have an influence on this decision.
The Australian Government can choose to industrialise the Kimberley or protect it as one of the earth’s special places, an awe inspiring part of the world that has been compared to the Amazon and Antarctica.
Write a letter to Minister Burke with your concerns, see our guide to writing a letter to the federal Environment Minister