11/08/2009 - 10:58

Federal Gorgon approval a formality

11/08/2009 - 10:58

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State Mines and Petroleum Minister Norman Moore says he expects no further delays from the federal government in granting its final environmental approval for the $50 billion Gorgon LNG project, paving the way for a final investment decision within weeks.

State Mines and Petroleum Minister Norman Moore says he expects no further delays from the federal government in granting its final environmental approval for the $50 billion Gorgon LNG project, paving the way for a final investment decision within weeks.

The state government granted its final environmental approvals for the controversial LNG development on the ecologically sensitive Barrow Island yesterday.

"That's a $50 billion project that we hope will be up and running very soon," Mr Moore told the Marcus Evans LNG World Conference this morning.

"Final environmental approvals were granted by the state yesterday, the Commonwealth is yet to give final tick-off (but) we believe that's a formality."

The massive project, which will produce up to 15 million tones of liquefied natural gas annually has undergone a protracted environmental review for several years due to the unique ecology of Barrow Island, described by conservationists as "Australia's Ark" as the last remaining habitat for many flora and fauna species long since extinct on the mainland.

The project was initially given conditional environmental approval in December 2006, however the partners were subsequently forced to scale up the project by 50 per cent to achieve better economies of scale in light of spiraling construction and labour costs. That in turn required a fresh application to the Environmental Protection Authority.

The EPA granted its conditional approval for the revised development plan in April, although the state government was not able to give its final approval until it had ruled on several appeals last month.

In granting its final approval yesterday, the state government imposed a number of conditions on the project, including greater limits on the dredging of coral, monitoring of light emissions, a 30 year flatback turtle conservation program and increased monitoring of subterranean fauna.

In welcoming the state government approvals, the Gorgon partners agreed to provide an extra $30 million to the existing $32.5 million commitment for the turtle conservation program, and an extra $20 million to the existing $40 million biodiversity conservation program planned at the island.

The Gorgon Project is operated by the Australian subsidiary of Chevron (50%) in joint venture with ExxonMobil (25%) and Shell (25%). The project's scope includes three, five million tonne per annum LNG trains; one of the world's largest carbon dioxide injection projects; and a domestic gas plant.

 

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