Chevron's LNG Gorgon Project Set for EPA's Decision

PERTH (Dow Jones Newswires), Apr. 24, 2009

Western Australia's Environmental Protection Authority plans to make a recommendation on Chevron Corp.'s multibillion dollar Gorgon liquefied natural gas project expansion next week, a spokesman for the Authority said Friday.

The Authority plans to issue its recommendation on Gorgon's proposal to expand its capacity by half next Thursday morning, Perth time, the spokesman told Dow Jones Newswires.

The recommendation, made to Western Australian Environment Minister Donna Faragher, is subject to a two-week public appeal process, the spokesman said.

Chevron, partnered with Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSB.LN) and Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), is seeking permission to increase the scope of Gorgon to 15 million metric tons a year to address rising industry cost pressures.

The most recent cost update for Gorgon of A$11 billion was given roughly five years ago.

Some analysts believe the cost of the expanded venture could top US$25 billion.

A Chevron spokeswoman didn't want to comment on the timing of any decision by the Environmental Protection Authority, but Chevron is working towards a go-ahead later this year, she said.

"We look forward to timely government approvals for the project to proceed to a final investment decision in the second half of 2009," she said. "The Gorgon joint venturers believe the environmental impacts of the revised and expanded scope for the Gorgon project can be minimized and effectively managed."

The Gorgon project, based on three processing units of 5 million tons a year each, will have "minimal additional environmental impact when compared to the already-approved two-train project", she said.

The venture, Australia's largest-ever resources project, will provide Australia with an economic stimulus and create around 6,000 jobs, she said.  

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