Chevron and its Gorgon partners have asked for approval to use more of the Barrow Island nature reserve, having run out of room to accommodate construction of their $US52 billion ($53.9 billion) LNG development.
The Barrow Island Amendment Bill 2013 began its passage through State Parliament yesterday, though Gorgon operator Chevron still requires environmental approval before it can add 32 hectares to the project's original 300ha footprint.
Chevron was last night at pains to point out the 10 per cent increase in Gorgon's overall footprint meant the project still disturbed just a fraction of the 20,000ha island, off the Pilbara.
Environmental groups, however, are likely to be up in arms.
The logistical challenge of building a 15.6 million-tonne-a- year LNG plant, complete with domestic gas and carbon reinjection plants, on a Class A nature reserve island have been a key cause why Chevron has had to increase the budget for Gorgon from $US37 billion to $US52 billion. _WestBusiness _reported two months ago that updated internal estimates by Chevron put Gorgon's likely cost at $US58 billion, a figure it will not confirm.
Chevron and its key Gorgon partners, Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil, have already begun using Barrow Island land designated for use by another Chevron joint venture, Barrow Island oil, as well as the island's airport to lay down and store materials.
It is thought at least 100ha, outside the Gorgon footprint but already licensed for industrial purposes on Barrow Island, are either being used by the Gorgon JV or in the process of being re-assigned by the WA Government for Gorgon purposes.
Chevron Australia managing director Roy Krzywosinski will today front the Economics and Industry Standing Committee's floating LNG inquiry, where he is expected to spell out the benefits of land-based LNG plants to the State such as Gorgon's provision so far of $20 billion of local content, and likely to increase to $30 billion.
He may also be asked how much Barrow Island land Chevron is using for Gorgon.