December 7, 2011
Woodside Petroleum is confident the $30 billion Browse gas project will move ahead as scheduled despite a court win for some traditional land owners over the proposed processing facility at James Price Point yesterday.
The Woodside-operated Browse (liquefied natural gas) development would process gas from fields 400 kilometres off the Kimberley coast to an onshore WA Government precinct 60 kilometres north of Broome.
The WA Supreme Court yesterday found compulsory acquisition notices issued by the West Australian government regarding the proposed gas hub were unlawful because they did not contain a description of the land required.
Premier Colin Barnett said the ruling did not make a lot of difference and the WA Government would reissue the notices with amendments.
Woodside, Australia's second largest gas producer, does not believe the ruling will hurt its development plans.
"The provision of the land for the Browse LNG Precinct is a matter for the State," a Woodside spokesman said in a statement today.
"Woodside does not believe that this result will impact on our work program and our activities are continuing on site as scheduled."
Mr Barnett said when the original notice of intent to acquire the land was issued, it covered an area of 7000 hectares, and that was to allow flexibility for where the final 3,500 ha would be.
"The court says you have to identify the exact 3,000 ha so the government will do that, we will reissue the notice of intent," he told reporters.
The Kimberley community has been divided and some have had an ongoing battle with Woodside over its plans to build the liquefied natural gas precinct.
Chief Justice Wayne Martin found yesterday any decisions made since the government-issued notices to take land at James Price Point and extinguish native title were also unlawful.
Chief Justice Martin found Neil Patrick McKenzie representing the Jabbir Jabbir people, and Phillip James Roe representing the Goolarabooloo people, had a sufficient interest in the validity to invoke the jurisdiction.
Mr Roe told reporters he was very happy with the result but the fight was not over.
"There's more to come and I'll be still going hard at it," he said outside court yesterday.
Mr Roe's lawyer Michael Orlov said there would be proceedings, probably next week, to declare the songline area an Aboriginal site under the Aboriginal Heritage Act.
He said the area where the project was being developed was an Aboriginal site and should have been approved by the minister under the Heritage Act.
Mr Orlov said because the approval was not obtained, it could halt the development for around 12 months.
"The immediate practical effect of this judgment is the Browse project agreement, which depended on the validity of these notices, is invalid and has no effect," he said.
"The minister can commence again but it is a long process and we'll have to see what he does."
- with AAP
Read more: http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/woodside-not-bothered-by-kimberley-land-ruling-20111207-1oixe.html#ixzz1fzEwkJDF