Barnett expresses disappointment over Canberra’s Browse LNG decision

WA Premier Colin Barnett has expressed disappointment on Sunday over Canberra’s decision to clear the way for Woodside Petroleum’s floating LNG processing plan.

Earlier this year, Woodside abandoned plans to build a gas processing hub at James Price Point.

Last month federal resources minister Gary Gray was talking up the use of floating LNG technology to develop the Browse Basin.

Barnett has been vocal about his opposition to the plan, saying he is concerned offshore processing would provide less economic benefit to Western Australia.

 “At the end of the day that gas belongs to Australia, and it’s a great thing that Australian and international companies can develop it but in any other part of the world both developed and undeveloped countries there would be a requirement for local industry participation and there’s a requirement for gas to come onshore and be used in the domestic economy,” he said.

“It’s a huge oil and gas field, to process it onshore and to bring some of it into the domestic economy and to have Australian jobs and opportunities for Australian industry.”

Barnett said Australian’s shouldn’t let resource jobs go offshore.

“To the people of Australia, you should not sit back and let all the gas, all the jobs and technology go overseas,” he said.

“We deserve a share of our own national resources.”

Barnett explained offshore processing off Western Australia’s north coast is susceptible to extreme weather conditions, including cyclonic activity.

“Now I can recognise that the companies are simply wanting to do offshore floating LNG, there are risks to that this is a cyclone belt, there will be six cyclones a year go through that area which will require evacuation, decoupling, recoupling, there’s going to be disruptions to production,” he said.

“However, that seems to be the view that Shell and Woodside are taking, I’m not so sure its other joint venture partners necessarily agree and in the last month I’ve talked to the chairs of Petro China, Mitsubishi and Mitsui about that project and I continue my discussions with them as participants and customers.”

Barnett is confident an onshore supply base can be built much quicker than a floating production facility and the development will be largely beneficial for the Kimberley region.

“This is a huge natural gas field, Browse is only one part of it, there will be three maybe four LNG projects over the next 20 or 30 years, we should not allow them to go elsewhere,” he said.

 “Lets provide a real economic opportunity for the Kimberley region and the Aboriginal people.

“At the end of the day this project is going to generate hundreds of billions of dollars of revenue to build a supply base for one to two billion dollars, it’s not much to ask.”

He said the WA government will commit $300 million if the onshore project was to go ahead.

“The industry is big enough, rich enough with deep pockets to fund its own infrastructure, I don’t think tax payers should have to do that,” Barnett said.

“We are just being soft as a country.”

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