Native title agreement signed for Browse LNG hub

Rick Wilkinson
OGJ Correspondent

MELBOURNE, July 1 -- A landmark native title agreement has been signed to secure land at James Price Point for the proposed Browse LNG project facilities precinct in the Kimberley region of northwest Western Australia.

The agreement follows 2 years of negotiations among Woodside Petroleum Ltd., the Western Australian government, and the Goolarabooloo Jabirr Jabirr native title claimant group.

The agreement also provides a $1.5 billion (Aus.) package of benefits and initiatives for the indigenous people of the Kimberley.

The Western Australia government will provide $256 million (Aus.) in funding over 30 years towards housing, education, economic development, promotion and protection of cultural heritage, and a Kimberley enhancement scheme that will invest in indigenous social programs.

Woodside’s commitments include implementation of ongoing education, training and employment initiatives, indigenous job targets, support for indigenous businesses, cultural initiatives, and payments upon milestones being met, including the final investment decision for the Browse LNG project.

Woodside says it is working with its joint venture partners—Shell, BHP Billiton, Chevron, and BP—to arrive at a final investment decision in 2012.

The native title agreement delivers land tenure that enables engineering studies to begin and discussions with buyers to secure long-term sales of LNG.

Front-end engineering for the project, which involves development of the Torosa, Brecknock, and Calliance offshore gas fields, began in February. The project still requires state and federal environmental approvals.

The traditional owners will be involved in the management of the LNG precinct. They will monitor the environmental performance of precinct operators and be consulted about environmental protection measures taken.

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