James Price Point

Photo Rod Hartvigsen

James Price Point, 50km north of Broome on one of the world’s most pristine coastlines, was the proposed site for the largest gas processing plant in the world. If approved, it would have opened up the floodgates to industrial development on a scale never seen before in northern Australia. To find out how the campaign successfully protected this special part of the Kimberley coast, go here.

THE PROPOSAL

Woodside Petroleum and the WA Premier wanted to turn Broome into an oil and gas town by building gas refineries on the coast at James Price Point (JPP), 50km north of Cable Beach.

Woodside Petroleum has joint venture partners Shell, MIMI, Petrochina and BP in the project who were reluctant to go to the Kimberley but were 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 had gone 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 showed 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 whittled away at this timeframe.

WHAT IT WOULD HAVE MEANT FOR THE KIMBERLEY
New gas refineries and an industrial port in the Kimberley would have led 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.

Click on this image for a short video message from Broome families who were opposed to the gas refineries

In terms of social impact, the arrival of up to 8,000 workers would have been a disaster 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 have been huge.

THERE WAS AN ALTERNATIVE

The joint venture partners eventually chose to investigate a floating platform to process Browse Basin gas instead of destroying the Kimberley coast.

Walmadany (James Price Point)                                 Photo: Martin Pritchard

THE CAMPAIGN TO PROTECT THIS PART OF THE KIMBERLEY WAS WON BY THE LOCAL COMMUNITY WITH SUPPORT FROM ALL OVER AUSTRALIA AND BEYOND

The community choose to protect the Kimberley as one of the earth’s special places, an awe inspiring part of the world that has been compared to the Amazon and Antarctica.