PROMINENT businessman turned environmental activist Geoffrey Cousins has re-emerged as a potential roadblock for Woodside Petroleum and its partners in the multi-billion-dollar Browse liquefied natural gas project off northern Western Australia.
Woodside yesterday added further momentum to plans to exploit the vast but remote Browse gas fields through groundbreaking floating LNG technology, signing a deal with project partner Royal Dutch Shell to investigate the economics of using Shell’s FLNG process.
But Mr Cousins, who has been a strong advocate for the development of Browse through FLNG due to its smaller environmental footprint, yesterday called for the project partners and the WA government to deliver on their economic promises made to Kimberley indigenous groups despite the increased likelihood that the Browse development will remain offshore.
A $120 million camp to house more than 850 fly-in, fly-out workers at the proposed gas hub in Western Australia’s Kimberley region has been given a conditional green light by a state government planning panel.
Amid some angry scenes from protesters, the Kimberley Joint Development Assessment Panel conditionally approved the camp, which would temporarily house workers while a bigger permanent camp is built nearer James Price Point – if Woodside Petroleum’s $40 billion project goes ahead.
The oil and gas giant is sticking to its June schedule for a decision on building the onshore gas processing plant near Broome, with Premier Colin Barnett saying earlier this week that any delays could set the project back many years.
The West Australian
Option: A floating LNG platform. Illustration: Royal Dutch Shell
Premier Colin Barnett has taken aim at new Federal Resources and Energy Minister Gary Gray’s support for offshore floating LNG processing on Woodside’s $40 billion Browse gas project, calling it a “tragedy” that would cost land-based Australian jobs.
The Premier said though Mr Gray had a strong industry background, his support of FLNG technology would hurt the local economy.
The West Australian
Annabelle Sandes © A whale and calf swim together off James Price Point north of Broome
Environmentalists claim Woodside has drastically underestimated the number of whales that swim in the waters off James Price Point as they step up their campaign against the proposed gas hub.
A new report by the Kimberley Community Whale Research project says between 12,108 and 15,876 humpback whales passed within 8km of the James Price Point shoreline during the 2012 migration season, compared to 1000 that Woodside’s global consultant RPS estimated would do so.
The Australian Workers Union says thousands of jobs will be lost if WA gas projects use floating LNG technology.
The comments follow those by federal Special Minister of State, Gary Gray, who has come out in support of the technology.
Mr Gray, who formerly worked for the oil and gas company Woodside, says a floating platform would put Australia at the cutting edge of technology.
Shell is using the technology to develop the Prelude project and is proposing to its joint venture partner Woodside that it process gas offshore, rather than onshore at James Price Point in the Kimberley.
Here’s the Environs Kimberley WA State Election Scorecard
Announcements made since EK published the scorecard.
Liberal Party policies: Kimberley
- Continue to push for a giant gas hub at James Price Point.
- Create one of Australia’s biggest national parks - Wanjina National Park. (NOTE – Liberal Party policy does not prevent mining in National Parks)
- $15million to create a Great Kimberley Marine Park stretching from Talbot Bay to the Northern Territory border.
- The park will cover more than 30,000 square kilometres of the Kimberley’s State waters. It will be second only to the Great Barrier Reef as Australia’s biggest marine park.
- The Liberal-led Government committed $63million for the Kimberley Science and Conservation Strategy, which will create the State’s largest, interconnected system of marine and terrestrial parks.
- Liberals are negotiating with a range of Traditional Owner groups on joint management of these parks.
ALP policies: Kimberley
- Establish the Great North Kimberley Marine Park, extending from King Sound in the west to Cambridge Gulf in the east, to protect about 9000 kms of coastline.
- Establish a 160 square kilometre national park to protect Horizontal Falls.
- Establish the Fitzroy River National Park from the Geikie Gorge National Park along the Fitzroy River to the north and along the Margaret River to the east. (NOTE – Labor Party policy is for no mining in National Parks however in the past land has been excised from National Parks for mining)
- Commence negotiations with the Mitchell Plateau bauxite tenement holders to relinquish their interest and then legislate to ensure the Mitchell Plateau is protected from mining in perpetuity.
- WA Labor will also allocate $4million over four years to employ 10 indigenous rangers to help manage the new Fitzroy River National Park.
- Not support uranium mining in the Kimberley
- Will not support Coal Seam Gas fracking (NOTE – most onshore gas in the Kimberley is shale gas)
Greens policies: Kimberley
- No gas hub at James Price Point.
- Create Great Kimberley Marine Park.
- Prevent fracking and coal mining in the Canning Basin/Fitzroy River catchment.
- Not support uranium mining in the Kimberley.
- Not allow new dams in the Kimberley.
- Develop sustainable economic futures for the region and redirect ‘Royalties for Regions’ funds away from mining subsidies to communities.
Nationals policies: Kimberley
- No environmental policy announcements made.
To hear from the candidates go to ABC Kimberley’s podcast of the candidate forum http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2013/03/07/3710547.htm?site=kimberley
The West Australian
Underwater at Shell Island near Cygnet Bay. Picture: Chris Campey
Marine scientist Ali McCarthy popped out of the turquoise water at Shell Island, grinning around her snorkel and holding a purple-tipped staghorn coral – one of many colourful reef specimens turning the shallows near Cygnet Bay into an underwater wonderland.
Despite being bombarded daily by the biggest tides of any tropical reef system in the world, early studies suggest the Kimberley corals survive big fluctuations in temperature, water flow and light intensity to grow at a phenomenal rate.
BUSINESSMAN turned environmental campaigner Geoffrey Cousins has urged the partners behind the controversial Browse liquefied natural gas project to consider Royal Dutch Shell’s floating LNG technology as an alternative development option.
Expectations are rising that Shell — which is developing the world’s first FLNG project at Prelude, off northern Western Australia — could push its new technology instead of current plans for a $US45 billion ($44bn) onshore LNG plant at James Price Point, north of Broome.
TRADITIONAL owners who voted for a liquefied natural gas precinct at James Price Point are threatening to reconsider their support if the Kimberley project’s social and cultural impacts are not addressed as part of the approvals process.
The Kimberley Land Council, representing the Goolarabaloo-Jabirr Jabirr people, has lodged an objection to the West Australian Environmental Protection Authority’s approval of the onshore gas hub proposed by Woodside and its partners.
The Environmental protection Authority released a report on the 16th July that said gas refineries could go ahead 50km north of Broome. This decision is open to appeal till 11.59pm on Monday, July 30, 2012. For more information on how to appeal please go here: