Gov celebrates Scarborough sanction

STATE and federal governments have lauded Woodside Petroleum after it finally greenlit its Scarborough gas development yesterday, celebrating the jobs and investment it will create, while activists have slammed the announcement, saying Woodside has “declared war on the climate”.

Protestors outside Woodside's headquarters this morning.

Protestors outside Woodside's headquarters this morning.

The A$16.5 billion LNG development will see gas from the Scarborough resource processed at Woodside's expanded Pluto LNG facility on the Burrup Peninsula with first gas expected in 2026. 

Western Australia premier Mark McGowan has welcomed the announcement, saying he expects the development to create around 3200 jobs during construction and 600 ongoing jobs, describing it as a "boon" for Western Australia.

"My government is committed to supporting projects that create more jobs for Western Australians," he said.

APPEA WA director Claire Wilkinson said the project will play an important role in reducing emissions in Australia and overseas. 

"Scarborough gas will play a critical role in reducing global emissions and ensuring energy security in those countries," she said. 

Federal resources minister Keith Pitt noted that as the world emerged from the pandemic, demand for Australian gas would continue to grow. 

"This is a major vote of confidence in the sector and demonstrates that, despite the claims and protestations of activists, there continues to be a bright future for our gas and oil industries," he said. 

The project has been subject to a multi-pronged campaign by activists, arguing the project is incompatible with Australia achieving its emissions reduction targets under the Paris Agreement. 

The groups argue that the project's methane and CO2 emissions cancel out any benefits its proponents claim it will have from switching out coal in customer countries. 


Activist groups have vowed to continue fighting the development.

Groups including the Conservation Council of Western Australia, Greenpeace, 350 Boorloo and Extinction Rebellion have used rallies, advertising and social media campaigns and legal challenges to argue that the project will have severe impacts on the local area's marine life and ecosystem, and the emissions would pose a severe risk to the climate and the ancient indigenous rock carvings on the Burrup peninsula. 

A snap rally was held out the front of Woodside's headquarters in Perth this morning, with 350 Boorloo Perth campaigner Anthony Collins pointing to the International Energy Agency findings that no new oil and gas projects can be developed if the world is to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 and keep global temperatures to 1.5C. 

"The Perth community isn't just going to sit by while Woodside tries to get away with building the dirtiest new fossil fuel project currently planned in Australia," he said. 

"We're just getting started - we won't leave any stone unturned in this campaign."

CCWA has claimed that key state and federal approvals for the project are outstanding which creates unnecessary risk to shareholders. 

"The coordinated national campaign against Scarborough gas will continue to apply pressure on this development, its investors and its buyers," CCWA director Maggie Wood said. 

Woodside CEO Meg O'Neill emphasised yesterday that the Scarborough reservoir contains only 0.1% CO2 and the gas would be processed through the new Pluto Train noting several energy saving techniques the company will use in this morning's presentation. 

She also said the project would support decarbonisation goals in Asia through replacing coal, however Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility climate director Dan Gocher disputed the claim, arguing "no credible evidence has ever been provided" to support this.

"Woodside is aggressively pursuing expansion while major trading partners such as Japan and Korea are taking active steps to decrease LNG demand, effectively ignoring the risk of stranded assets," he said. 

Woodside is adamant it will reach net-zero emissions across its soon-to-be-expanded portfolio by 2050, with a 30% reduction target by 2030. 

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