Woodside says $50bn gain from Browse project

14/11/2011 - 12:44

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Woodside says $50bn gain from Browse project

Woodside Petroleum has released an environmental study on the offshore component of its Browse liquefied natural gas project for public review that shows most activities associated with the development have been assessed as low risk.

The company also says the project, estimated to cost $30 billion to develop, will generate up to $50 billion in gross domestic product for the Australian economy.

However, it also said that wellhead noise levels had the potential to disturb the behaviour of marine fauna using the channel between North and South Reef at Scott Reef.

Woodside said part of the development would be close to Scott Reef, which supported abundant populations of hard and soft corals, other invertebrates and a diverse range of fish.

Whales, turtles and sea snakes are known to live within or migrate through the Scott Reef area.

Many protests have been held at the planned processing site, James Price Point near Broome, on environmental and Aboriginal heritage grounds.

The onshore component of the project is subject to a separate environmental review process.

Other potential risks considered by Woodside to be greater than "low" included the behaviour of turtles being disturbed by artificial lighting and the creation of offshore exclusion zones interfering with commercial fishing.

Woodside said Sandy Islet at Scott Reef was a significant area because it was a green turtle nesting site, so vessels would try to avoid it.

The document also outlined the potential effect of electromagnetic fields on wildlife.

Potential effects on recreational fishing, shipping, scientific research, the military and tourism were "minor and localised", Woodside said.

Browse senior vice-president Michael Hession said the document demonstrated that the offshore component of the planned development could be built and operated in an environmentally and socially responsible way.

A final decision to proceed the project is expected next year, with first gas slated for 2017.

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