Chevron approved for third LNG train on Barrow Island

The Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority has approved Chevron Australia's application for a third LNG train on Barrow Island as part of the Gorgon gas development project.

Apr 30th, 2009

Rick Wilkinson
OGJ Correspondent

MELBOURNE, Apr. 30 -- The Western Australian Environmental Protection Authority has approved Chevron Australia's application for a third LNG train on Barrow Island as part of the Gorgon gas development project.

But EPA has recommended stringent conditions be attached.

EPA Chairman Paul Vogel said the agency continued to oppose the location of the plant on an A-Class nature reserve (Barrow Island) as a matter of principle. However the agency recognized that Western Australia had approved construction of a smaller plant (two trains) and concluded that Chevron's proposal could meet EPA's objectives provided its conditions were imposed.

EPA disagreed with Chevron's claims that no additional measures or controls were needed to manage the potential impact on marine fauna, saying that the proposal did not provide a reasonable prospect for the long-term viability of one of the most significant flatback turtle rookeries in Western Australia.

The main way to reduce risks to the rookery would be by having an unaltered light horizon compared with current natural conditions from the perspectives of both gravid female turtles and hatchlings.

This could be achieved by relocating flares to an appropriate inland location and shrouding plant lighting and major lighting on the offload facility and jetty, as well as maximizing possible shrouding and light source reduction on LNG carriers and other vessels.

EPA added that the increased potential impact of dredging and marine infrastructure construction on the high-value, coral-dominated habitat of the Lowendal Shelf could be alleviated by real-time monitoring and having trigger levels for corrective action based on levels that did not cause coral deaths.

This could mean stopping dredging when required and would need to be set out in conditions following advice to the Environment Minister from the Construction Dredging Environment Expert Panel.

EPA also said Gorgon's high levels of carbon dioxide were a concern. It added that the project should not be sited on Barrow if the aquifer beneath the island proved to be unsuitable for the injection and long-term storage of the carbon dioxide produced.

EPA's new assessment was for the change from a two-train to a three-train project. Any further additions would require further study and assessment by EPA.

The report is now open for a 2-week public appeal period. Final approval rests with the Western Australia government.

The Gorgon Development is operated by Chevron with 50%. ExxonMobil and Shell each hold 25%.

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