Shell backs environmentalists against Kimberley onshore gas plant

turtleTHE SHELL OIL COMPANY has heavily backed environmentalists criticism of its Browse Basin partner, Woodside’s plants to build an LNG Facility onshore on the Kimberley Coast’s James Price Point, just north of Broome. Save The Kimberley spokesman, Kevin Blatchford, said the just released Shell draft environmental impact statement on its proposed Prelude Floating LNG Plant (FLNG) 200km offshore was a damning indictment of its partner’s plans, and The WA Premier, Colin Barnet’s backing of these plans. He emphasised that to date Woodside’s partners Shell, BP, Chevron and BHP, had yet to support their partner’s proposal with any media commentary suggesting there were more economic alternatives. “Shell’s EIS now slams home the environmental issues on top of the previous strong suggestions that they and the other partners had serious doubts as to its economic justification.”, said Blatchford. Blatchford quoted the following excerpts from the 300 page document and added: “This conclusively shows why there should be NO onshore gas facilities on the Kimberley Coast, they should all be offshore.” The Shell report noted that:
  • “The Prelude FLNG Project avoids the need for a “traditional” onshore development scenario that would ordinarily comprise of onshore platform(s), export pipeline(s), an onshore liquefaction plant, export jetty and the associated facility preparation works including coastal dredging and also provide process heat requirements.”
  • “It (Prelude) has a low environmental footprint which is restricted to its location 200 km offshore, away from sensitive environmental receptors such as turtles, whales and the Kimberley coastline.”
  • “The preferred outcome of the assessment was FLNG as it offered: the lowest environmental footprint; a lower development cost; and ?exibility to subsequently relocate the FLNG facility to other felds.
  • “Greenhouse gas emissions have been assessed in an Australian context as a Moderate negative impact during the operations phase. The FLNG facility is 15 – 25% less CO2 intensive than a conventional onshore LNG plant but still has a carbon footprint of 2.3 mtpa of GHG gases emitted at full throughput.
  • “The FLNG facility itself has a number of efficiency improvements over an onshore LNG Plant such as: Use of cold seawater from 150 m depth as coolant rather than coastal seawater or air cooling.
  • “FLNG has been selected by Shell as the preferred development option due to its low environmental and socio-economic footprint, lower development cost and flexibility to relocate to other fields.
  • “Further, the onshore options were all found to require a significantly larger environmental footprint than the FLNG facility. All onshore options would require a significant land-take and the associated land clearing for the onshore processing infrastructure, an export pipeline (with rock stabilisation in shallow water), a causeway and a jetty with dredging for shipping access.
  • “Economic impacts were assessed as a Moderate positive impact as the Prelude FLNG Project could directly create more than 500 jobs in Australia during the drilling and construction phases and 320 direct jobs for 25 years during the operational phase.
  • “Most of the operational jobs will be held by Fly-In, Fly-Out workers on the FLNG facility. The project is also expected to employ maintenance staff and logistics personnel in Broome and/or Darwin. Indirectly, the project can be expected to support employment in local small business and revenue for local merchants and service suppliers.
  • “During the 2006/07 year, the Port of Broome’s outer berth and two smaller berths accommodated 1,626 vessel visits. Of the total number of visits almost 19% (308 vessels) were rig supply vessels, a growth of more than five times the number of visits from the previous year.”
SPEAKING AFTER reviewing the report, Save the Kimberley Chairman Peter Tucker said:

“In a world where pristine environment is disappearing rapidly, and climate change is becoming increasingly real, it seems crazy that the Premier is so dogged in his endeavours to impose an onshore gas plant on Broome. “Shell have said it themselves. Onshore LNG has a significantly larger environmental footprint and floating LNG is an economically viable alternative. Why are we even entertaining the idea?”