Friday, January 27, 2012

Calls for new Browse gas hub site mounting


18:30 AEDT Fri Jan 27 2012

Calls are mounting for Woodside Petroleum to reconsider plans to process Browse Basin gas on the environmentally significant Kimberley coast of Western Australia.

The Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) on Friday said the Kimberley coastline was an inappropriate site for a large industrial project.

"The James Price Point gas hub proposal has stoked up so much opposition on so many fronts that many investors are now asking if the project is still viable, or if Woodside has already lost its social licence to proceed," ACF Kimberley officer Wade Freeman said.

Mr Freeman's comments came after Woodside said it was considering selling down its 50 per cent stake in the $US30 billion ($A28.32 billion) project.

He said gas from the Browse Basin should be piped to less environmentally sensitive locations such as the Woodside-operated North West Shelf in the Pilbara region, a view shared by some business analysts.

The ACF has also been critical of the role that the Colin Barnett-led state government has played in the project, an opinion echoed on Friday by new WA opposition leader Mark McGowan.

The WA government in 2010 started the process of compulsorily acquiring land at James Price Point after the premier became frustrated by legal disputes among native title claimant groups.

A court last year ruled that the notices of land acquisition were invalid because they did not provide enough detail, so fresh notices of intent to take the land will need to be lodged.

Mr McGowan said the premier's interference in the proposed project had caused delays.

"He upset the indigenous people of the Kimberley, he upset the non-indigenous people of the Kimberley with his activities," Mr McGowan told reporters.

"He claims he's a can-do sort of guy.

"All it's resulted in is business nervousness."

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