The West

Woodside Petroleum is remaining tightlipped on rumours that it is about to shelve its controversial $40 billion Browse liquefied natural gas project.

The energy giant has reportedly told the Federal and State Governments that its Browse joint venture partners have decided not to proceed with plans to build a LNG processing plant at James Price Point, near Broome.

Contractors doing preliminary work at the site have been told to demobilise and that no further progress payments will be made, The Australian Financial Review’s website reported today.

A Woodside spokeswoman said she was unable to comment on market speculation.

Meanwhile, WA Premier Colin Barnett has denied he was told last week by Woodside and its joint venture partners that the James Price Point project would not proceed.

“I have not received advice to that effect from the joint venture partners at all,” he told parliament.

However, he said he had been in continuous talks with Woodside.

“It’s not for me to comment publicly, particularly to market sensitive information as to what the decisions might be.”

Woodside received conditional State Government planning approval last week to build a $120 million camp to house more than 850 fly-in, fly-out workers at the proposed gas hub.

The company recently said it was sticking to its June schedule for a final decision on building the onshore processing plant.

Analysts believe the proposal is not economically viable because of spiralling costs and challenges securing labour.

Joint venture partner Royal Dutch Shell prefers a floating liquefied natural gas facility.

Greens MP Robin Chapple called on the State Government to rescind the Browse Land Agreement Act.

“If it doesn’t, the sword of Damocles will hang over the Kimberley for the next 10 years,” he said in a statement today.

“If these reports are accurate, it is a clear victory that Woodside and their partners have seen sense, but the State Government continues to hold the Kimberley to ransom while this Act continues to operate.”

Greens Senator Scott Ludlam said the project would affect the site’s cultural heritage values and the local tourism sector.

He said the State Government should focus on renewable energy as a long-term economic alternative to create jobs and secure energy security.

The West Australian

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