WA dealt better hand in Browse game

THE Western Australian government may have gained up to half of the largest field that makes up Woodside's Browse floating LNG project, and more bargaining power with it.
WA dealt better hand in Browse game WA dealt better hand in Browse game WA dealt better hand in Browse game WA dealt better hand in Browse game WA dealt better hand in Browse game

The National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator redrew federal-state boundaries covering the Torosa field off the Kimberley coast.

Woodside will need to renew the seven retention leases it has on those fields.

The federal government has waived the requirement for onshore processing to take place as a condition on its five retention leases but WA is yet to follow suit with its two leases.

WA Premier Colin Barnett told the recent Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association conference in Perth that the state would be prepared to renew its two leases providing the Browse joint venturers agreed to a domestic gas allocation and to put the supply base for the FLNG project in the state.

Some might have said Barnett was bluffing when the federal government was arguing that the two state retention leases covered just 5% of the total Browse field.

According to Hansard, WA Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Marmion told state parliament yesterday that the NOPTA revision might mean that "as much as 50% of the Torosa field could be in WA waters".

By the sounds of that, Barnett's hand may have gained a couple of aces. It remains to be seen whether there are a couple of eights along with it.

For his part, Woodside managing director and CEO Peter Coleman previously said he would prefer to see the supply base in WA but would not go where the company was not welcome.

He is clearly trying to avoid a repeat of the problems Woodside faced when it initially planned to process its Browse gas on shore at James Price Point.

Coleman also said the Northern Territory was an option, but not the favoured one at this stage.

However, the NT has also proved quite adept at making itself attractive to oil and gas projects that are facing difficulties in other nearby jurisdictions.

On the domestic gas allocation issue, Coleman has said that he would prefer to have that dealt with on a business-to-business basis.

Torosa is the largest of the three fields that make up the Browse project's combined resource of 14.9 trillion cubic feet of gas and 441.2 million barrels of condensate.

The other two fields are Brecknock and Calliance.

Toroso is also considered one of the most complex and difficult to develop, and is the only one of the three that crosses into WA waters.

A Woodside spokeswoman said the company had no comment on the boundary issue at this time.