The West

Premier warns over Browse WA gas supply

Premier Colin Barnett warned the Woodside Petroleum-led Browse consortium yesterday that he would use his increased bargaining power to force them to supply WA with domestic gas as well as help fund a supply base at James Price Point.

However, the Premier stopped short of suggesting he would use his new bargaining muscle to try to force the consortium to ditch their plans for a floating gas processing development in favour of a return to an onshore operation, which would create a short-term construction boom and thousands of jobs.

The State Government gained major bargaining muscle this week when it was revealed that the Commonwealth-State boundaries covering the Torosa gas field off the Kimberley had been redrawn.

Torosa is one of three gas fields that make up the Browse project, which is to be developed as a floating liquefied natural gas operation.

The Federal Government had previously argued that WA owned as little as 5 per cent of the Browse resources, principally because most of Torosa was in Commonwealth waters.

But the boundary revision has ceded more of Torosa to State waters and Canberra now accepts WA may own up to 65.5 per cent of Torosa.

Mr Barnett said yesterday that WA had now become an equal or "the major player" in terms of ownership of the gas and would therefore negotiate to ensure there were benefits for the State, including domestic gas coming onshore and the development of a jobs-creating supply base.

While Mr Barnett acknowledged that gas from the Browse project may not be processed onshore, he pledged gas from other projects in the Browse Basin would eventually be processed at James Price Point, north of Broome.

Conservation group Environs Kimberley said "no company in their right mind" would attempt to build at James Price Point given the fierce opposition to it.

The West Australian

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