Saturday, September 11, 2010

Compulsory acquisition

The WA Government clarified that the area that will be acquired by the State for the gas hub at Prices Point will be 2,500 hectares of the land and about 1,000 hectares of sea bed which includes 2 kilometres of coastline. Around 2500 hectares (25 SQUARE KILOMETRES) will be used for gas processing, accommodation and third party contractors. A further 968 hectares of land will be used for the "ancillary' areas of onshore pipelines roads and services. In Jan 2011 it was reported that the area at Prices Point will be 25 square kilometres comprising 2000 hectares for the plant itself, 1000 hectares for common usage areas, 200 hectares for workers accommodation and 200 hectares for anxillary work for services supporting the precinct. It is disturbing to note that the public were told in 2008 that the Prices Point LNG plant would: ''require a few hundred metres of coastline and about 300 to 400 acres (1 and half square kilometres or 150 hectares) on the land which would not be accessible to the public." (December 20th 2008). Prices Point itself will remain intact with free access for recreational purposes if the plant goes ahead. There will be a track from a sealed road between the Precinct and the Cape Leveque Road.

The federal Environment Minister, Tony Burke, recently extended until June 2011 the consultation period for an assessment of the heritage values of the Kimberley.

Woodside, Shell, Chevron, BHP and BP will not make a final investment decision until at least mid 2012.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Broome - the next Karratha?

In August 2005, Woodside was investigating the viability of the Quandong area for a 500 hectare natural gas plant to service the Browse Basin 400 km north of Broome. The company did the preliminary surveys with the Kimberley Land Council and met with the senior law bosses of the Dampier Peninsula in Sept 2005.

Now that the Federal court has thrown out legal action being taken by Kimberley gas hub opponent, Joseph Roe, traditional owners are continuing to deliberate their next move.

Meanwhile, the Broome Shire President has recently said that if thousands of workers start building a gas hub north of Broome they must be kept in a closed camp.

Broome Shire president Graeme Campbell says the shire expects the gas hub to go ahead and wants to minimise its social impacts on the town.

Woodside says it expects the hub will take five years to build with 6000 workers (Broome Advertiser page 9 August 18th 2011) employed at peak construction. Mr Campbell said the shire was in serious talks with Woodside and the West Australian government about fly-in, fly-out workers being housed in a closed camp at the gas hub site." If they stayed in town, that would be the end of our tourism, because they would fill every bed and every accommodation house at whatever cost."And if large numbers of workers descended on Broome on a Friday night "all hell breaks loose in the town", Mr Campbell said."We are adamant it must be a closed camp."
The plans I've seen for the camp, they have ovals, they have swimming pools, they have taverns, they have recreation facilities, and as part of their contract they won't be leaving the camp," Mr Campbell said."

Mr Campbell said Woodside had agreed that workers transiting through Broome airport or visiting town must be in civvies, not work uniforms.
Workers would also be barred from going to the beach or fishing near local indigenous communities, he said.

But Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) WA construction division secretary Kevin Reynolds said the union opposed a closed camp and restrictions on workers. He said construction companies increasingly wanted to treat workers who lived in construction camps like prisoners."We're even being dictated to what they're going to wear." They're not locked up in a prison camp. Broome is a beautiful town but it's an open town and it's open to anyone, including construction workers," Mr Reynolds said."It's just ludicrous. What are they going to do, put up Gestapo pillboxes and road blocks to check everyone?"

Woodside corporate affairs adviser Paul Ryan said the venture was developing a code of conduct for workers to strike a balance between providing economic opportunities for Broome and minimising social impacts.He would not be drawn on whether the camp would be a closed one but said the code of conduct addressed how workers should behave and dress "in order to fit in with the local culture and lifestyle of Broome".That included workers not wearing work clothes while travelling or when in town after hours.Mr Ryan said fly-in workers would have to abide by beach and fishing restrictions.

(Source AAP)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The fine print details

It is now becoming clearer what impact an LNG gas plant would be on the Peninsula from a physical point of view if the project is approved.
This design was on view at the NW Expo in Broome recently. It is a conceptual layout not necessarily the final design and not to scale. (Used with permission).

  • Prices Point and Quandong Point will remain intact with free access for recreational purposes for the life of the precinct. (Shire News Issue 61 August 2011.)

  • If given the go ahead, the LNG plant will be located south of Prices Point - it seems at least about a kilometre.

  • The fenced area will be approx. 2000 hectares (20 square kilometres or 4942 acres)

  • The construction area will be approx. 500 hectares (5 square kilometres or 1235 acres) within the fenced area and located at least 1 kilometre inland from the shore line.

  • The area of beach which would be off limits would be approx 1 and half kilometres

  • The area of marine impact would be approx. 1000 hectares (10 square kilometres)

  • The jetty and loading facilities would be approx. 1 kilometre from the shore line.

  • There will be two enviromental impacts to consider (Federal Govt and Woodside) . The Federal Environmental Minister will make clear the Governments recommendations by late 2010.

  • The investment decision by Woodside will be made by mid 2012. By this stage all approvals and design work will be completed.

  • If all hurdles are cleared, Woodside aim to have construction finished by 2017.

  • Woodside aim to generate 600 direct jobs during the ongoing operations phase and up to 5000 direct jobs during peak construction.

  • According to LNG literature, noise levels are understood to be low and emissions from the plant also low. Conservationists are concerned by the likelihood of a 600-900 MW power station, a desalination plant and tonnes of carbon dioxide emission into the air .

  • Of major concern would be the effects of dredging and blasting on the marine life of that area and the ongoing movements of up to 600 supertankers per year.

It is disturbing to note that the public were told in 2008 that the Prices Point LNG plant would:

''require a few hundred metres of coastline and about 300 to 400 acres (1 and half square kilometres or 150 hectares) on the land which would not be accessible to the public." (December 20th 2008).


  • The cost of housing - rental properties?

  • The availability of medical and dental services which are already under pressure

  • 3500-5000 fly in /fly out workers.

  • Tourism?

Sunday, February 28, 2010

A friend under threat

I was taken by friends along the red, dusty, winding 60 kilometre track to Prices Point early in the wet season of 1979. The bush was lush having been refreshed once more by the annual welcome rain. As we reached our destination the road before us cleared to reveal a pristine panorama of ocean beauty. Beyond us in the distance was an impressive unspoilt tower of red cliffs which hugged the shoreline into the far horizon. Immediately in front of us tranquil, turquoise blue water was filling the beach with an incoming tide. Over the years I had been accustomed to sharing dull green beaches and yellow sand with hordes of holiday makers in Victoria, but today we had this paradise to ourselves. I couldn’t believe the striking, vivid colours contrasting with each other in dazzling array. No wonder I found myself reaching for a camera.

It was on this day that I was introduced to ‘real’ fishing. In no time at all we were walking out across the rocks with 80lb hand lines. As we found a likely spot, I momentarily pondered on the strength of my rig until the reel I was holding was almost ripped from my hands. I clumsily wound in the line which revealed an enormous Blue bone head. Obviously, I hadn’t been quick enough because a shark had neatly chomped the body from behind the gills. From that day on, I was hooked.

Over the past 30 years, I would estimate that I’ve fished and camped at Prices Point well over 200 times and I’d have to say, that place has seldom let me down. The fishing has been unbelievable! Sure it’s mostly been Blue bone, which has got to be one of the best fish in the ocean, but there’s always been an impressive variety of other species too.How you could refer to this area as ‘unremarkable’ is beyond me. Call me weird, but I’m not ashamed to admit that I have been found hugging trees at Prices Point because each time I go there it’s like coming back to an old friend.

On more than one occasion I have walked the Lurrujarri Trail from Prices Point to Quondong with some of the traditional owners. This has helped me come to appreciate the significance of the area which has been preserved in its natural state over thousands of years.The more time you spend at Prices Point the more you see. Individual rocks and rock pools become familiar landmarks in your mind and the corals in the fishing channel are delightful with their variety and beauty. Of course on very low tides you can take your hammer and screw driver out for a feed of oysters.

And there is much more to the area than fishing and camping. Paul Foulkes, a noted local botanist, spent endless hours drawing the unique flora at Prices Point and scouring the rocks for evidence of the dinosaur age. This was back before we ever thought this place could one day be under threat of clearing and dredging.Areas like Prices Point are becoming rare in a world that cries out for industrial development. To have such a peaceful spot at our door step for everyone to enjoy is something to be valued and treasured.I’ve been lucky enough to appreciate Prices Point over many long years, but I’m fearful that the next generation will be looking through a high meshed fence at a massive gas plant.