Saturday, December 5, 2009

Indecent haste to demand a deadline on gas decision

There are still vital issues to consider before any decision is made about a gas processing hub at Prices Point. Tthe Browse decision cannot be rushed and the alternative of processing gas at the North West Shelf facilities at Karratha still needs to be fully examined. With the issuing of a four month deadline by Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson on the venture partners to come up with a decision to choose Prices Point as a condition of lease renewal, the directive speaks of indecent haste. Does this deadline make irrelevant the environmental, heritage and social impacts currently being undertaken?

Martin Ferguson steps in with a deadline

Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson has put the pressure on the warring Kimberley LNG parties by setting a time limit of FOUR MONTHS to settle their differences and choose a development path for the $30 billion Browse Basin gas project. In granting the renewal leases that cover the project's Browse Basin gas fields, Mr Ferguson said that the joint venture partners had to aim for a final investment for the project within three years, as part of the renewal conditions.Woodside Petroleum has been battling the other partners - Chevron, Royal Dutch Shell, BHP Billiton and BP for some time as to the best way forward.Woodside opts strongly for Prices Point whereas the other partners are considering the Browse gas to be used when their other gas resources start running out from 2020.
Martin Ferguson has directed that that the joint venture partners spend $1.25 billion in the next two and a half years developing their Browse gas fields through the Prices Point LNG hub.
The government has directed the partners that they have 30 days to accept its conditions of coming up with a concept plan by April 2010 and moving toward a final investment decision by mid-2012.
Woodside has suggested that the first gas could be developed in 2016 or 2017.
Shell has hinted the project could be as much as $50bn.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The future through a 'crystal ball'

When the final decision is made on processing LNG at Prices Point, the week of August (2nd - 7th) 2009 could prove to be very significant. During this time, the Port Authority in Broome negotiated 15 hectares for Woodside to provide a supply base for the Browse Basin gas and Peter Garrett discussed the LNG site at Prices Point with the Traditional owners. Peter Garrett has a long history of rapport with Aboriginal people here in Broome going back to when he performed on the McAlpine PCYC oval over ten years ago.

It seems logical that he would have been very open to the viewpoints presented by the KLC and the Traditional owners who see the LNG project as the window for delivering a range of benefits to the Aboriginal people including housing, health and education.
Peter Garrett will make the final decision in November 2010 and it is also clear that Martin Ferguson, the Federal Minister for Mines and Energy, is fully supportive of using Prices Point for the LNG hub.

The environmental impact study will not be helped by the widespread bush fires that have once again burnt the vine thickets and surrounding bush in the Prices Point area in early August 2009.

The arrival of Lord McAlpine in the mid 80's marked the start of major development in Broome when the population was less than 5000. If the LNG gas hub is given the green light, we can expect another dramatic impact on Broome and the environment, similar to the outcomes experienced in the Pilbara. The population, housing prices and rents will go through the roof and Broome will take on a much more industrial character.

It's a shame that 'progress' demands that the natural environment which has been untouched for millions of years is sacrificed and what we once enjoyed and loved will be gone forever.

Kimberley whale survey shows highest numbers near proposed LNG hub

An aerial whale survey off the Kimberley coast has recorded the highest population numbers of Humpback Whales in the near vicinity of James Price Point - a site proposed for a massive industrial LNG gas processing facility.

The whale survey conducted on the weekend (29/30 August) with the assistance of Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures and The Wilderness Society recorded a staggering 162 Humpback whales in 102 separate pods between Gourdon Bay in the south to the Lacepede Islands in the north, with the highest concentration recorded in the vicinity of the proposed industrial site at James Price Point. (source - Richard Costin and Environs Kimberley)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

What a 'price' to pay!

The 3,500 hectare gas processing plant at James Price Point would need two 125 megawatt power stations, a desalination plant, an airport and a town for 3,500 construction workers, as well as a new port capable of accommodating gas super-tankers at an environmentally sensitive site in the Kimberley.
The industrial site has been proposed for an area previously earmarked by government for a national park. A number of internationally threatened species, including Humpback Whales, endangered Turtles, Dugong, Snub-fin Dolphin and Sawfish would be at risk from the dredging and blasting of reefs and seagrass beds for a new port, as well as from the huge increase in shipping.
The Federal Minister for the Environment will make a decision in mid-2010 about whether or not the gas proposal can go ahead in the Kimberley,’ said Mr Pritchard.
(Excerpts from the press release August 3rd of Martin Pritchard – Environs Kimberley)

The K.L.C. wants action on royalties

The Kimberley Land Council has urged the Venture Partners who are opposed to bringing gas onshore in the Kimberley to resolve their differences concerning the $30 Billion LNG gas project at Prices Point so that the promised $1.5 Billion in benefits such as jobs, housing and health care can be delivered to the Traditional owners. The K.L.C. is also seeking $1 Billion in separate royalties from the Federal Government to raise living standards of the local Aboriginal people. A quick resolution seems unlikely on both issues. (Based on an article by Andrew Burrell in the Financial Review - August 2009)

Friday, July 31, 2009

Piping LNG to the Pilbara or a floating facility

A subsea pipeline to the Pilbara is Woodside Petroleum’s main option for the $30 billion Browse LNG project if it cannot convince its wavering partners to support an onshore plant at James Price Point. Mr Barnett said the government would not grant the necessary approvals, such as pipeline easements, for such a plan to proceed. And though the state government would have no jurisdiction to stop the alternative of a floating LNG facility at Browse, he said the technology was only suitable for smaller LNG projects, such as Shell’s proposed $3 billion Prelude FLNG venture nearby. Nonetheless, Shell and Woodside have in the past identified FLNG technology as a possible option for both the Browse project and the big but remote Sunrise LNG project in the Timor Sea. Mr Barnett said it was time Woodside’s Browse partners – Chevron, Shell, BHP Billiton and BP – accept reality and back the Kimberley hub. Chevron and Shell are understood to be the main parties still unconvinced that the onshore hub is the best option,(Excerpts from WA Business News 30th July 2009)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Whale sightings at Prices Point

Richard Costin and observers on MV Odyssey observed Humpback whales feeding off the Kimberley coast on Friday the 24th of July 2009, 7 nautical miles from James Price Point. Not previously thought to feed in Kimberley waters, the whales were observed feeding with a pod of 20 Pilot Whales, 3 Bottlenose Dolphins and flocks of sea birds. Mr Costin and his partner, Annabelle Sandes, from Kimberley Whale Watching, have spent the last three years studying and filming the Kimberley╩╝s Humpback Whales and other cetaceans.
In total 23 pods representing 43 whales were observed between Broome and James Price Point, over a three and a half hour period. This represents 12.28 whales per hour of sighting effort.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Woodside wants action at Prices Point

Woodside Petroleum it seems will consider putting pressure on the Federal Government to strip its multinational Venture Parters including Cheron and Shell of their Browse Basin liquefied natural gas leases if an agreement cannot be reached. These leases expired in December 2008 and are up for renewal. Federal Resources Minister, Martin Ferguson, has threatened that companies cannot sit on valuable gas reserves without developing them. Woodside is the principal developer with a 50% stake in Browse gas. Chevron, Shell, BHP Billiton and BP make up the remaining 50%. Martin Ferguson supports developing Browse gas at Prices Point but what clout has Peter Garrett, the Environmental Minister, in the final decision? The proposal has yet to be approved; the environmental assessment of the project will not be completed until late 2010. Already the proposed construction date, if the project gets the go ahead, has shifted from 2011 to 2013.
(based on an article in the West Australian July 3rd 2009)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The choice is made in late 2009 for Browse LNG

The June deadline has now passed with no agreement between Woodside and its joint Venture Partners. No wonder there is hesitation, since Karratha is looming as the logical choice over Prices Point for the Browse LNG because:
  1. The North West Shelf's infrastructure near Karratha is already in place.
  2. Woodside's partners: Shell (8.3%), Chevron (16.7%), BHP Billiton (8.3%) and BP (16.7%) would be considering the strong option of refilling the N.W.S. reserves when they run low in 10 years time with Browse LNG.
  3. Piping gas from the Browse to Karratha is a far cheaper option than construction of a hub at Prices Point.
  4. There are uncertainties concerning the KLC especially with their recent negotiations with the Federal Government regarding future benefits for traditional owners.
  5. Environmental groups and the Broome Shire are opposed to LNG development at Prices Point.
  6. Woodside's partners are already heavily committed to other projects including Gorgon which has three times the gas reserves of Browse and is the biggest resources project in Australian history.
  7. In the present economic downturn, will the joint Venture Partners be wary about developing a greenfields site at Prices Point especially now that the cost of the project may have blown out to as much as $50 billion.
  8. The development of the Woodside Browse will only incrementally boost LNG output which makes it very hard to justify another expensive project at Prices Point.
  9. If Shell is working on a floating LNG plant, why is this not an option for Browse LNG?

(these views based on an article in the West Australian July 1st 2009)

Friday, May 8, 2009

The gas hub promises

The gas hub is a $185 billion, 30-year project.
Woodside expects 6000 fly-in fly-out jobs will be created during the five-year construction phase, alongside hundreds of positions for local indigenous groups when its proposed $20 billion Browse Basin LNG project gets going, possibly as early as 2011.
The deal promises to deliver something between $1.5billion and $2 billion to the traditional owners, known as the Goolarabooloo Jabirr Jabirr Native Title Claim Group.
Several traditional owners did not attend the signing of the agreement yesterday, including "law man" Joseph Roe, who says the pipeline will cut through his songline. Frank Sebastian's son, Neil McKenzie, a Jabirr Jabirr man did not sign.

The project, which is still subject to an environmental impact statement and a final signoff by Woodside over the next six months, would put an LNG plant measuring 3km by 3km on the coast north of Broome to receive gas from offshore wells.
The package for the Jabirr Jabirr people promises improved health and education, land, housing, and employment as well as a financial settlement.

The LNG processing site could be located anywhere
between Flat Rock and Quandong, up to 5km inland on
a 3,000-hectare site. The massive breakwater and extensive
dredging of the seabed (annually, should the project
go ahead) could extend kilometres out to sea.
(Extracts taken from the news report in the Australian Newspaper)

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Law custodian of Prices Point refuses to sign gas deal

The law custodian of Prices Point will not sign the gas hub access deal.
Goolarabooloo elder Joseph Roe voted against the development at last week's meeting.
He says he has widespread support for his fight to stop the project.
"At the end of the day, my job is to protect what I've been handed down from generation to generation, that's Bugarigaara, or Dreamtime," he said.
"I have to stand up as a law boss and protect it and keep it behind me.
"I'll make sure no-one comes down and destroys that."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Traditional owners say "Yes"

Today Traditional land owners voted to accept the establishment of an LNG precinct at James Price Point.
Premier Colin Barnett said the landmark agreement, involving the Kimberley Land Council and Woodside, provided comprehensive native title and cultural heritage agreements and land tenure arrangements.
The precinct, 60km north of Broome, will occupy about 1000ha but with accommodation, ancillary services and a land and sea buffer, the total area could be up to 3500ha.
The site will be subjected to an environmental assessment before development proceeds.
Woodside can begin construction by mid to late 2011.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Heritage Concert

WHAT A CONCERT! With 4,500 through the gate, it had a wonderful feeling of community, with families and friends reclining on the grass together in true Broome style.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Walmadany needs a voice

FRIDAY MARCH 27th 2009

ROB HIRST (midnight oil)
ANGUS GRANT (scotland)

FREE ENTRY from 4pm
Donations gratefully accepted at entrance/exit gate to help cover costs of concert

Law Keeper and Custodian for the Goolarabooloo heritage, Joseph Roe, has asked the Pigram Brothers and friends to create this cultural celebration - Walmadany Concert for Heritage

The WA State Government have said they will build a gas processing precinct at Walmadany (James Price Point) 60 km north of Broome on the Kimberley coast and are even prepared to compulsorily acquire this land.
Apart from the obvious environmental and social impact of such proposed industrialization, this event hopes to draw attention to the significant social and cultural values at stake in Broome should this development proceed.

Excerpt from the invitation to artists :

The law and song cycles of Walmadany (James Price Point) are not ancient dreamtime history. This law has been kept alive through my grandfather Paddy Roe and now through me. If the threatened development goes ahead our Country is gone for good. Our Country holds our heritage including burial sites, and most importantly the Song Cycle that runs through this country from the north of the Dampier Peninsula from Burringbarr (Swan Point) to Wabbina (Bidyadanga) Your voice can help draw attention to this great plight and help protect our ancient and sacred song cycles Bugarigaara (Dreamtime)........JOSEPH ROE, LAW KEEPER & CUSTODIAN GOOLARABOOLOO
Organiser, Alan Pigram said the event was not a protest concert, but rather a celebration of Price's Point and its cultural significance.
"My concern is for that country, not anything else really, it's not opposition to gas or other development, but THAT COUNTRY NEEDS A VOICE,'' he said.
Alan Pigram said Prices Point had played a big role in his life and that of his family.
One of the proudest things for me when these artists come to town is to take them up that coastline, it's part of our lifestyle to do that, the pride in being able to to that, to show them that area and to tell them all the stories," he said

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Traditional owners aim for LNG deal

A committee was elected representing traditional owners from the area (Goolarabooloo and Jabirr-Jabirr) around the proposed LNG processing site at Prices Point to negotiate a deal with the State Government and Woodside which includes:
• Long term jobs ands benefits
• Traditional owners want to be economic partners not victims to be compensated.
The Committee will report back to the wider traditional owner group at the end of March for a decision whether to continue negotiations. A final agreement is not expected to be reached until the end of the year.
Premier Barnett wants an agreement by March 31st after which he will consider compulsory acquisition.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Fly in, fly out politicians

Regional Development Minister Brendon Grylls came with a 'fly in fly out' visit to tell us that 'more people could get to know the Kimberley if a gas hub was built.'

At the same time Federal Energy Minister Martin Ferguson lobbed in for a one day visit to inform us that:
  • An LNG hub would not be bad for tourism - will only take a small area of land - be environmentally clean and employ a couple of hundred people.
  • An LNG hub would help overcome indigenous disadvantage through investment in communities.

As Robert Vaughan wrote in the Advertiser on Feb 12th - "Broome would be well advised to take a good look at the train wreck BHP left at Ravensthorpe."

Saturday, January 31, 2009

ALP Broome Branch rejects gas hub

'The ALP Broome Branch does not support the location of a gas processing hub in the Kimberley and surrounding waters.' 16th December 2008

Friday, January 30, 2009

Gas information forum - 27th/28th March

The Shire has endorsed a $30,000 budget line to support and organise a community forum on the Gas issue. This forum will invite all groups including, the Chamber, the Airport, Woodside and other Resource companies, Dept of Resources and non Government Agencies such as environmental groups.
The idea of the forum is to provide the community with a one stop forum to get a range of information on the issue and to have those questions answered.
The forum will be held on 27/28 March and all environmental groups will be invited to participate.
Hopefully this forum will be an opportunity for the people of Broome to hear all sides of the issue.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Other LNG gas options are being considered.

"Given the high level of environmental concern about gas processing developments on the Kimberley coastline, the various Browse Basin (companies) are increasingly considering
either floating development options (like Royal Dutch Shell and Nexus energy) or a tie
back to exisisting infrastructure

Woodside will decide by the end of June whether to construct a pipeline to link its Browse Basin fields to existing liquefied natural gas plants on the Burrup Peninsula.

Should the WA Govenment proposed Kimberley LNG hub concept fail then (other
companies) would be expected to follow the lead by Inpex and pipe any Browse
Basin gas to Darwin." Source: "The West Australian" Jan 26th 2009

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Will Woodside shelve Prices Point?

Interesting that Woodside have blamed souring market conditions for shelving two natural gas projects recently. Natural gas futures in New York have dropped 57% in the past 6 months and crude oil prices have plunged 74%. Woodside Natural Gas - a US unit of Perth based Woodside Petroleum had suspended its proposed natural gas import project for the LA region. "We must acknowledge the impact of the current market ...... we are withdrawing our application for the time being," Woodside Natural Gas president said. Meanwhile, BG group, Britain's third largest natural gas producer has cancelled plans to build a $750 million power plant in Australia. Market analysts are predicting a poor year for Woodside during 2009 due to difficulty in raising capital and the low price of fossil fuels.
Does this mean anything for the development of Prices Point - we can only wait and see.