Environs Kimberley has welcomed Origin Energy’s departure from a Kimberley oil and gas joint venture with Buru Energy, but a serious new threat has emerged.

Buru Energy says Origin’s departure will allow it to progress the development of a gas and condensate find, ‘Rafael’, near the National Heritage-listed Martuwarra Fitzroy River. The proposal includes a pipeline across the unspoilt tropical savannah of the Kimberley to a floating gas plant off the coast.

Martuwarra Fitzroy River by Damian Kelly

Martuwarra Fitzroy River. Photo: Damian Kelly

“This new methane gas project has the potential to be extremely damaging to the Kimberley. To propose a gas plant off the coast harks back to the bad old days of Woodside’s and Colin Barnett’s James Price Point (JPP) proposal,” said Environs Kimberley spokesperson Martin Pritchard.

“Like JPP, this latest proposal is totally unacceptable. The McGowan Government must demonstrate that its commitment to protecting the region is real, and tell Buru this sort of development will not be permitted in the Kimberley.

 Rally to protect the Kimberley from Woodside’s LNG proposal in 2013 at Fremantle by Adam Monk

Rally to protect the Kimberley from Woodside’s LNG proposal in 2013 at Fremantle. Photo: Adam Monk

“if we want to have a safe planet, the age of climate-destroying methane gas extraction is over. Buru Energy was forced to suspend its oil operations because of the recent floods — showing that the industry is incompatible with the Kimberley region and its climate.”

Origin’s exit from the Kimberley, announced last year but only made official today, follows a long line of fossil fuel companies — Mitsubishi, ConocoPhillips, PetroChina, Alcoa and Twiggy Forrest’s Squadron Energy — that exited the region after wasting millions of dollars of their shareholders’ money.

Lock the Gate spokesperson Simone van Hattem said, "Origin is clearly eager to rid itself of its Kimberley fossil gas interests at a time when the world is swiftly transitioning to renewable energy. Buru Energy has already cleared tens of thousands of square kilometres of tropical savannah vegetation in the Kimberley just so it could survey for gas. The McGowan Government needs to step in to stop this madness before Buru can inflict any more destruction on the precious Kimberley."

The Rafael project would entail damaging seismic testing and associated land clearing near the National Heritage-listed Martuwarra Fitzroy River.”

“If built, this project would industrialise the Kimberley landscape beyond recognition. Well-pads, tracks, pumping stations, and a pipeline network would turn the spectacular landscapes of the region into something like the fracking fields of Texas.

“It’s time for Buru Energy to focus on renewables rather than industrialise the Kimberley with methane gas fields.” 

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