Gorgon LNG Development Faces Environmental Opposition

ChevronTexaco is facing resistance to its proposed A$6 billion Gorgon liquefied natural gas project offshore of North Western Australia from two agencies who are opposed to the development. The Western Australia State Government has yet to make a final decision and is requesting that both agencies recommend appropriate conditions for any development should the government approve it. A decision is expected later this year.

ChevronTexaco wants to build an LNG plant on Barrow Island which lies between the Gorgon fields and mainland Australia approximately 130 kilometers away. Using Barrow Island would save the project around A$1 billion, but the island is a nature reserve. "The Environmental Protection Authority and the Conservation Commission have advised they consider that access to Barrow Island is not compatible with the island's very significant environmental and conservation values." said Dr. Jim Limerick director general of Western Australia's Department of Industry and Resources.

The state government is now seeking public comment on ChevronTexaco's proposed development. The closing date for public submissions is August 12, 2003. Should the government approve the development it would still face scrutiny under the Environmental Protection Act and the Commonwealth Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

A report for the government from Allen Consulting on the economic impact of the Gorgon development found that over the period to 2030 the project would contribute A$21 billion to Australia's gross domestic product and that Australia's exports would be boosted by A$9.1 billion. It would also increase the federal government's income by an estimated A$11.4 billion and bring Western Australia state government A$1.0 billion.

Partners in the field are ChevronTexaco with a 4/7th interest; Shell with a 2/7th interest and ExxonMobil with a 1/7th interest.