EPA’s emissions guideline a threat to Woodside projects

Woodside Energy has urged the Western Australian State Government to reject the Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) revised guidance on greenhouse gas emissions as it could jeopardise the Browse, Scarborough and Pluto Train 2 projects.

Under the revised guidance, the Western Australian EPA is set to recommend offsets for project proposals with direct emissions above 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year.

Woodside Energy chief operations Meg O’Neill told delegates at the Australasian Oil and Gas (AOG) conference in Perth it was “disappointing and concerning” that the EPA has issued a greenhouse gas emissions guideline without consultation.

“Alarm bells should be ringing well beyond our industry as the EPA guideline provides a roadmap for those wishing to mount legal challenges to any industrial projects on the grounds of their emissions,” O’Neill said.

“If this guideline is allowed to stand, it leaves Western Australia unfairly exposed and at a competitive disadvantage to other states.”

Woodside’s Burrup Hub will see the development of some 20 to 25 trillion cubic feet of gross dry gas resources from Scarborough, Browse and Pluto, processed through its LNG facilities – Pluto LNG and the Karratha Gas Plant.

It is therefore vital that the state government strongly and unequivocally rejects the EPA’s guideline for investment in WA, according to O’Neill.

“[A] rejection alone is not enough while this guideline stands. The government should be prepared to legislate, if need be, to clear up the confusion caused by the EPA,” O’Neill added.

The current federal policy is to reduce emissions by 26–28 per cent by 2030, which is the nation’s Paris commitment. The federal opposition’s policy is for a 45 per cent reduction by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050.

EPA chair Tom Hatton, however, claimed the EPA’s more stringent approach acts as a further action to limit global warming consistent with the Paris agreement.

The EPA Board also recognised the lead role of the Commonwealth Government in relation to Australia’s international obligations on reducing emissions, Hatton said.

Additionally, the EPA’s revised guideline has been met with opposition by the Western Australian State Government.

“As the Premier has said on a number of occasions, the EPA’s guidelines are not the government’s and the Premier has made it clear that we will not be endorsing these guidelines,” Minister for Mines and Petroleum, Energy and Industrial Relations Bill Johnston said.

“We are absolutely determined to support job-creating LNG projects like Browse and Scarborough. As a responsible government, we must ensure projects like these are given long-term certainty.

We will not adopt a policy that threatens jobs, or puts WA out of step with the rest of the nation on greenhouse matters.”

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