26/10/2015 - 12:57

Independent panel gives Browse the nod

26/10/2015 - 12:57

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An independent panel has endorsed the proposed development of a liquefied natural gas precinct at James Price Point near Broome, but the recommendation may have little impact as project developers led by Woodside Petroleum have shifted their focus to floating LNG developments.

James Price Point.

An independent panel has endorsed the proposed development of a liquefied natural gas precinct at James Price Point near Broome, but the recommendation may have little impact as project developers led by Woodside Petroleum have shifted their focus to floating LNG developments.

The Browse LNG precinct was one of WA's most contenstious development proposals, drawing protests from environmental, indigenous and community groups.

It envisaged development of an LNG hub to process up to 50 million tonnes per annum of gas, with Woodside's Browse LNG project earmarked as the foundation developer.

The Environmental Protection Authority backed the proposal in July 2012, but the Supreme Court later found its report was invalid.

The state government responded by appointing three independent delegates, who reviewed the proposal and recommended its implementation subject to 28 conditions.

The delegates were environmental and public sector consultant Gerard Early, lawyer and Environmental Protection Authority member Glen McLeod, and incoming EPA chairman Tom Hatton.

Mr Early said the strategic proposal identified port facilities, shipping channels, LNG processing facilities, pipeline crossings, infrastructure, a light industrial area, roads and worker accommodation area.

“The delegates undertook the environmental impact assessment of the Browse LNG strategic proposal with fresh eyes, examining every part of this project thoroughly and methodically,” he said.

“Following a review of all the technical and scientific information available, we have recommended a number of implementation conditions be imposed should future proposals identified in the strategic proposal be approved by the minister for environment.”

Mr Early said a number of environmental factors including the potential impacts on the marine environment, marine and terrestrial fauna, flora and vegetation, air quality and atmospheric emissions and heritage were assessed.

Woodside announced in 2013 that its preferred option for developing its Browse gas fields, located off the Kimberley coast, was construction of three floating LNG vessels.

It said a land-based LNG plant at James Price Point was not commercially viable because of high construction costs.

The proposed floating LNG development is still subject to evaluation, with low oil and gas prices threatening its commercial viability.

 

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