WA EPA green-lights Woodside’s North West Shelf project to run to 2070

Conservation Council WA executive director Maggie Wood said the approval of the project’s life extension could undermine state and federal efforts to reach net-zero emissions. “The EPA has said that the North West Shelf facility must be net-zero emissions by 2050, but it is not clear how Woodside will be able to achieve this,” she said.

“If Woodside is not willing to reduce production then they will be relying on offsets.

“Offsetting projects simply doesn’t deliver what we need – a large-scale reduction in the carbon emissions entering the atmosphere.

“This is one of the oldest and least efficient gas processing plants in Australia and Woodside is dangerously close to being given a license to continue to produce highly polluting fossil fuels into the 2070s.”

The watchdog has also recommended oxides of nitrogen, which potentially damages World Heritage nominated rock art that shares the same rocky peninsula as the Karratha Gas Plant, be lowered 40 per cent by the end of 2030.

EPA chairman Professor Matthew Tonts has increased pressure on the state government also to stop considering new projects on the Burrup Peninsula – also known as Murujuga – to protect the sea, land and cultural values ​​of the globally significant site.

The Burrup is home to the world’s largest concentration of ancient rock art with some images believed to be more than 30,000 years old, depicting when Tasmanian tigers still lived on the mainland as well as the arrival of European ships.

The EPA’s report said the government needed to consider establishing a management framework for potential cumulative effects on the sea, country and air of Murujuga.

The rock art gallery in Murujuga national park includes thousands of depictions of animals and people.

The rock art gallery in Murujuga national park includes thousands of depictions of animals and people.Credit:Emma Young

“When the opportunity arises to review the ministerial conditions of other existing industrial facilities within Murujuga, the review should consider whether the conditions should include additional requirements to reduce the cumulative risk of impacts to rock art from air emissions,” it said.

“The EPA considers that the values ​​of the sea and land environments of Murujuga and its surrounds are unique environmental assets of global significance that require a cautious approach.

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“Future activities and developments should assess compatibility with the protection of values ​​within Murujuga and its surrounds.”

Alternative locations for related industrial infrastructure should be considered for future developments, according to the EPA, like the nearby Maitland Industrial Estate south of the peninsula.

The EPA follows an earlier set of recommendations for a proposed urea plant at Murujuga which selected the proponent, Perdaman, had to prove was not damaging the rock art.

The International Energy Agency has warned no new coal, oil and gas projects should be started beyond those committed to in 2021 if the planet is to avoid warming of greater than 1.5 degrees.

The EPA’s decision is open for appeal until July 21. WA Environment Minister Reece Whitby will make the final decision on whether the extension can go ahead and under what conditions.

EPA’s five yearly targets for Woodside to reach net-zero on North West Shelf Venture

26.95 million tonnes of CO2-e for the period between January 1, 2030 and December 31, 2034

20.4 million tonnes of CO2-e for the period between January 1, 2035 and December 31, 2039

13.5 million tonnes of CO2-e for the period between January 1, 2040 and December 31, 2044

6.75 million tonnes of CO2-e for the period between January 1, 2045 and December 31, 2049

0 tonnes of CO2-e for every five-year period from January 1, 2050 to December 31, 2070

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