Colin Barnett's push for the Woodside Petroleum-led Browse consortium to fund development of a supply base in the Kimberley has received its second major boost in as many days when the Economics and Industry Standing Committee urged the State Government to return to James Price Point and hit up the Commonwealth for infrastructure funding.
Delighted by news that the surprise discovery of rocky outcrops in deep waters near North Scott Reef would greatly increase the State's ownership of the massive Torosa gas field, the Premier yesterday also received what could be seen as a bipartisan endorsement to push ahead with his long-held plan to develop an oil and gas precinct at James Price Point, north of Broome.
The trigger was the standing committee's tabling of its long-awaited report into the economic impact of floating LNG on WA following an exhaustive public examination of the oil and gas industry's push to process gas offshore because of the State's sky-high construction costs.
Much of the inquiry focused on the Woodside Browse consortium's decision to ditch James Price Point as its preferred gas processing option in favour of a floating solution similar to the one pioneered by Royal Dutch Shell's Prelude development.
The two-volume report, which runs to more than 700 pages, made 33 recommendations, many of which criticised the Federal Government for its scant regard for WA's best economic interests.
Much of the criticism was levelled at Canberra's decision late last year to endorse the Woodside Browse consortium's request for changes to the retention leases governing its three Browse project fields - Torosa, Calliance and Brecknock - to remove the requirement for onshore gas processing.
The Commonwealth, which held five of the seven leases, obliged but Mr Barnett has refused to follow suit with the two WA leases that cover part of Torosa.
Revelations in _WestBusiness _yesterday that the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator had redrawn the Commonwealth-State boundaries around Torosa because of the discovery of the rocky outcrops means WA's share of Torosa could be more than 50 per cent and greatly enhances Mr Barnett's bargaining position with Woodside.
Mr Barnett has declared the Torosa rezoning as "good news for WA", though it is not expected that he will stand in the way of the Woodside consortium's FLNG ambitions.
However, he is likely to demand a domestic gas guarantee in return, as well as a commitment to build a supply base.
Woodside is not commenting on Torosa's like rezoning.