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Wheatstone LNG project gets conditional environmental approval

LNG Industry,

A report by Western Australia’s Environmental protection Agency has concluded that the Wheatstone project’s environmental impact could be limited to an acceptable level if managed properly. The project will require final regulatory approval from State environment Minister Bill Marmion before it can go ahead but the report is encouraging news for Wheatstone’s owners.

The Wheatstone Project is a joint venture between the Australian subsidiaries of Chevron (73.6%), Apache (13%), Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company (7%) and Shell (6.4%). A final investment decision is not expected until the second half of 2011 pending final regulatory approval from the Environment Minister.

The EPA had some concerns, not least the fact that dredging will be required which will remove up to 48 million m3 to create a safe harbour. It has also been noted that the project will significantly add to the State’s green house gas emissions, adding some 10 million m3/yr, and it may disrupt the migration of whales along Pilbara coastline.

As a result, the EPA has set stringent rules for the project which include:

  • The company must offset greenhouse gas emissions.
  • An ongoing requirement for an independent energy efficiency audit.
  • Conditions to limit the impact of the plant on marine life including whales, dugongs and turtles.
  • Limits on the proposed dredging to limit damage to reefs.
  • The company must offset the impact of a construction workforce on the Cane River Conservation Park.

Chevron Australia Managing Director Roy Krzywosinski said, “This marks an important step towards a final investment decision in the second half of 2011 on one of Australia’s biggest resource projects.

Chevron is seeking approval for a 25 million tpa LNG facility and associated domestic gas plant, along with associated offshore infrastructure.

“We believe the environmental and social impacts can be effectively managed and we will now review the EPA report,” said Brian Smith, general manager, Wheatstone Project. “The front-end engineering and design phase of the Wheatstone Project is complete and we are continuing to work with government to obtain timely project approvals.”

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