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Gas hub opponents bend ear of investors
James Price Point. Picture: Leon Mead

A group of international investment fund managers has toured James Price Point with the Australian Conservation Foundation as part of a broader tour of WA energy and resources operations.

The conservation foundation has reiterated plans to target Woodside shareholders in a bid to derail the proposed gas hub at James Price Point.

ACF economic adviser Simon O'Connor said the investor group from Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Melbourne was being hosted by DAIWA Capital to discuss the economics of the proposed development. Mr O'Connor said the group spent 18 hours in Broome with ACF after taking up the foundation's invitation to hear locals' concerns about the proposed gas hub.

He said the overseas visitors were among the top 50 major shareholders of Woodside. Many also owned stocks in the joint venture partners.

While in Broome, the group visited James Price Point to view dinosaur footprints with Queensland palaeontologist Steve Salisbury, heard about bilbies and monsoon vine thickets from Malcolm Lindsay and whales from Kimberley naturalist Richard Costin.

They also met traditional owners and anti-gas campaigners Phillip Roe and Richard Hunter to discuss the indigenous residents' concerns.

"The idea was to show them the complexities and layers of risk and uncertainty tied up in all these social and environmental issues that have the potential to either stop this project, push out timelines or increase budget, ultimately," Mr O'Connor said.

"We finally got this group to come up and visit the site for themselves to learn about in much more detail the local issues … that we think are the critical element of whether this project will go ahead or not."

The group then made their way to Woodside's Pluto LNG operations in Karratha.

Mr O'Connor said about a quarter of Woodside's share registry had now been directly targeted with teleconferences and investor briefings held in Britain, Asia and Australia in recent months.

He pointed towards a recent JP Morgan report which found "floating" the gas processing would save $9 billion in capital costs and avoid most of the social and environmental opposition to the Browse project.

A spokesman for Woodside said the company also regularly engaged with its investor groups and had facilitated today's investor visit to the Pluto LNG plant and North West Shelf project.

He said Woodside was currently evaluating the tender bids for the onshore and offshore infrastructure for the proposed development and undertaking a disciplined assurance process to determine project costs and economics.

"Until the bids have been evaluated for all of those tender packages, a final cost of the development cannot be determined," he said.

"Our clear goal is to make sure we get the cost and schedule right and take this project in its current location at James Price Point through to a final investment decision in the first half of 2013."