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As the quest to find a suitable location to process Browse Basin gas enters a critical phase, ACF’s latest Investor Alert shows the door is opening for Woodside to make a decision to shift its controversial gas hub planned for James Price Point.
The report updates investors on significant risks for Woodside’s Browse LNG (liquid natural gas) project proposed at James Price Point in Australia’s remote and ecologically pristine Kimberley region. Simon O’Connor, ACF’s economic adviser, has briefed investors on the increasingly large array of risks mounting against Woodside Petroleum’s planned gas hub on the Kimberley coastline.
The potential environmental impacts on the vulnerable biodiversity of Kimberley are well chronicled. Concrete pipelines are planned to lie across turtle nesting sites. The siltation effects of constant harbour dredging are unknown but were estimated in previous studies to reach northern Cable Beach.
The LNG processing hub, the world’s second largest, could sit on top of vulnerable bilby colonies. The Greater Bilby is listed under the Environment Protection Biodiversity and Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act) as a vulnerable species as its habitat has substantially shrunk in recent years.
Increasing costs, low gas prices, highly conditional environmental approval and a pervading sense that Woodside has lost its social licence to proceed are all major hurdles that could sink plans for a gas hub at James Price Point
The Investor Alert was delivered to 100 investment organisations across the world – super funds, fund managers and analysts – who hold shares in Woodside. We’re asking investors to demand Woodside explain how James Price Point, with its risks and controversy – which include threats to the world’s longest intact dinosaur trackway, bilby breeding grounds and a whaling calving ground – stacks up against the option of piping gas south to the North West Shelf.
"Our investor alert shows why the North West Shelf is a much smarter option, on environmental, social and economic grounds, and why it’s in the interests of investors that the company pursues this option sooner rather than later," said Simon O’Connor.
Contrary to some of the biggest investment banks in the world, Woodside has maintained its James Price Point option is more attractive than the existing industrial site at North West Shelf Environmental and social assessments on the James Price Point site have been found lacking in proper, rigorous process. Community and independent scientists have discovered bilby colonies and turtle nesting sites located in areas reported there to be none, and under estimated whale calving grounds and dinosaur trackways.
"With project time lines slipping, costs increasing and customers walking away – now is the time for Woodside to prove to investors that James Price Point offers better returns for shareholders than the North West Shelf option," advises O’Connor.
Increasing costs, low gas prices, highly conditional environmental approval and a pervading sense that Woodside has lost its social licence to proceed are all major hurdles that could sink plans for a gas hub at James Price Point.
"The alternative option – piping the gas south to the existing North West Shelf industrial site – offers lower capital costs and fewer risks," says O’Connor. "We will be making the case to the investor community that it’s time to grab the life raft and for Woodside to announce plans to pipe the Browse gas south."