August 31, 2012
James Price Point in WA is where Woodside Energy and its joint venture partners (BP, BHP, Shell and Mitsui/Mistubishi,) plan to build a giant new hub--the Browse Liquefied Natural Gas Hub---to process gas flowing from offshore wells in the Browse Basin, 350 km to the north.
This is one of the largest industrial projects in Australia’s history and will become the largest gas hub in the world and a slowing Chinese economy is the most likely customer for Kimberley gas.
Photo: Glenn Campbell
Woodside's chosen site requires cutting through native vegetation and dredging parts of the sea bed for the super tankers. Woodside's claim is that the environmental impacts of its $45 billion proposal can be "minimised and managed effectively" with respect to as it applies to vulnerable life forms such as dolphins, dugongs, turtles, fish stocks, and humpback whales.
The WA Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has given the project the green light, despite major concerns that its scientific basis is less than rigorous.
A core argument by those critical of the proposed development concerns the James Price Point location. They ask, why cannot the gas be processed 800 km further down the coast, in the Pilbara, where much of the necessary infrastructure already exists, and where the environment has already been scarred by development. Or why not use a floating platform as Shell is doing at its Prelude Field in the Browse Basin?
The problem with this argument by those opposed is that the insistence on James Price Point as the only site by the mining companies is because the state and federal governments wrote that into the lease renewal documents. Why so?
The most plausible explanation so far is that the Woodside development at James Price Point is seen to be a way to develop a new port in the north-west so that all the various mineral resources of the Kimberley can be exported, including gas, diamonds, iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, silver, nickel, uranium, coal, tin, mineral sands and on-shore petroleum.
This opening up the Kimberley with a port in the north west is supported by the West Australian and federal governments.
The question to ask now is: does the James Price Point location make commercial financial sense? Is it commercially viable? One recent answer.