Inpex, KLC negotiate over Maret Islands LNG plant

Japanese company Inpex Corp. has agreed to negotiate with the Kimberley Land Council (KLC) over the company's plans to build a $10 billion (Aus.) LNG gasification plant on the remote, uninhabited Maret Islands off northwestern Western Australia.

Rick Wilkinson
OGJ Correspondent

MELBOURNE, July 6 -- Japanese company Inpex Corp. has agreed to negotiate with the Kimberley Land Council (KLC) over the company's plans to build a $10 billion (Aus.) LNG gasification plant on the remote, uninhabited Maret Islands off northwestern Western Australia.

The Inpex-Total SA joint venture involves piping gas 200 km from Ichthys field in the Browse basin to two LNG trains of 3.8 million tonnes/year capacity (commissioned a year apart) to be built on South Maret Island (OGJ Online, Feb. 2, 2007). The accommodation, airstrip, and other service facilities will be on North Maret, and the two islands will be joined by a 500-m bridge or causeway.

Ichythys field received Australia's Major Project Facilitation status in August 2006. The field lies in about 250 m of water and has gas reserves estimated at 9.5 tcf, with 312 million bbl of condensate.

Pre-front-end engineering and design (FEED) work for the field and plant facilities is under way, and FEED is expected to begin by yearend, leading to a final investment decision at yearend 2008. The target is to bring LNG on stream in 2012.

Construction likely will require a site clearance of 260-340 hectares, requiring removal of 35-45% of the natural vegetation. Fauna consists of reptiles and birds, but no mammals.

Inpex has agreed to pay compensation if the plan to build facilities on the islands proceeds.

Inpex Managing Director Jiro Okada said the parties had finalized a heritage protection agreement, which involves identifying sites of cultural significance as Inpex continues its environmental studies on the two islands.

KLC executive director Wayne Bergmann said the deal would provide major benefits for indigenous communities in the Kimberley region and would enable cooperation in developing the Maret islands. KLC will now negotiate employment training, business and joint venture opportunities, land management programs, and compensation for traditional owners, he said.

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