Traditional owners okay Kimberley LNG hub

Traditional owners in the Kimberley region of northwest Western Australia have given approval for the state government's proposed LNG hub at James Price Point 60 km north of Broome.

Rick Wilkinson
OGJ Correspondent

MELBOURNE, Apr. 17 -- Traditional owners in the Kimberley region of northwest Western Australia have given approval for the state government's proposed LNG hub at James Price Point 60 km north of Broome.

Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett said the government had reached broad agreement with the Kimberley Land Council (KLC) and Woodside Petroleum on the establishment of a site for the LNG hub after traditional owners had voted in favor of the project.

The approval provides a framework for comprehensive agreements to be established on native title and cultural issues, land tenure arrangements, and benefits to the local community.

The premier has been seeking the site approvals to avoid a repeat of last year's loss of the Inpex group's Ichthys LNG project to Darwin.

He said the next step is development of an Indigenous Land Use agreement in negotiation with traditional owners that could be registered by early 2010 if all goes well. Environmental approvals may then be completed by yearend 2010, which would mean a foundation group such as Woodside could begin construction by mid-late 2011. The site at James Price Point would occupy about 1,000 hectares, although with accommodation, ancillary services, and a land and sea buffer, the total area could increase to 3,500 hectares.

For its part, Woodside said it expected to execute a heads of agreement with the state government and the KLC soon on the basis that the Kimberley hub would be its preferred site for the processing of LNG from Browse basin gas fields (Torosa, Brecknock, and Calliance), which contain about 20 tcf of gas reserves.

Woodside is designing the facilities along with its JV partners BHP Billiton, BP, Chevron, and Shell. However, at this stage none of the partners are parties to the heads of agreement.

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