Battle over Woodside's new gas project heats up: 'Climate bomb'

Woodside Energy’s Scarborough gas project which opponents say will harm the Great Barrier Reef is set to be challenged in the Federal Court.

Warning over the next 25 years, 1.37 billion tonnes of greenhouse pollution will be created by the development the Australian Conservation Foundation will ask the court to stop it.

While the Western Australian development lies 3000km from the reef, and much of the gas will be burned overseas, ACF argues it could accelerate global heating and cause coral bleaching.

Underwater bleached coral at the Great Barrier Reef
Conservationists argue the Scarborough gas project could harm the Great Barrier Reef. Source: Getty

As an offshore project, it would normally be exempt from federal environmental laws, however ACF argues it should be assessed as it could harm the marine park.

The charity’s CEO Kelly O’Shanassy labelled Scarborough a “climate bomb about to be detonated”.

“If it goes ahead, the Scarborough gas mine and its Pluto extension will produce vast quantities of climate-heating gas for the next quarter of a century,” she said.

“It would result in annual climate pollution equal to more than the annual pollution from 15 coal fired power stations.”

After documents were lodged in the Federal Court on Tuesday, Woodside CEO Meg O’Neill said the company would “vigorously defend its position”.

“The Scarborough Project is underway and proceeding to schedule after receiving all primary environmental approvals,” she said in a statement.

“The project will deliver significant local and national benefits in the form of employment, tax revenue and reliable gas supply in the energy transition for decades to come.”

Greenpeace warns Woodside blowout could impact marine parks

A seperate warning about Woodside's gas hub plans was issued by Greenpeace on Wednesday.

It released a comprehensive report, and interactive map, examining the harm a potential spill could do to surrounding marine life.

Greenpeace examined Woodside’s Burrup Hub, which includes the proposed Scarborough and Browse gas fields.

An interactive map showing the potential harm a spill could cause.
Greenpeace warns a leak at Woodside's gas hub could reach Indonesia. Source: Greenpeace

Modelling project data, it concluded an accidental blowout at the northern end of the hub could result in the leaking of 142 million litres of condensate, for 77 days, over 863km.

Greenpeace warns under a worst-case scenario, this could impact multiple marine parks, and impact communities in far-off Indonesia.

"Woodside’s own data reveals an accident at Browse would release millions of litres of gas and condensate, a substance similar to crude oil, spreading hundreds of kilometres along the West Australian coast, hurting local communities and important industries such as tourism,” Greenpeace's Jess Panegyres said.

Woodside responded to the report, by saying they have an “established track record of safe and reliable operations”.

“The strong environmental management controls we have committed to, and will implement, for the Scarborough project and proposed Browse development are outlined in multiple environmental documents submitted to State and Commonwealth regulators which are publicly available,” a spokesperson said.

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