The Guardian • Issue #2001


Gas project threat to delicate ecosystem

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2001

Where there are profits to be made, irrespective of the damage they may cause, corporations will seek them. This is the situation with the new Barossa offshore gas project near Darwin in the Northern Territory.

Energy giant Santos – in partnership with South Korea’s SK E&S and Japan’s Jera – are investing $4.7 billion to develop the new gas field in what is understood to be the biggest investment in Australia’s oil and gas industry in almost a decade. The gas field is offshore, lying 300 KM north of Darwin which will include “a new floating production facility and new underwater production wells”, which will require “a new pipeline connection between the Barossa field and the Darwin [Liquefied natural gas] (LNG) processing plant on shore” (ABC).

Northern Australia Minister Keith Pitt said the investment was a sign “absolutely [of] confidence in the Australian resources industry”. NT Deputy Chief Minister Nicole Manison said the project, would create “jobs, jobs and more jobs for Territorians”.

Others, however, are more concerned with the project’s environmental impacts.

Dan Gocher, Director of Climate & Environment at the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility qualified the new project as “a carbon bomb” and that when “Santos talks of potentially capturing carbon … they’re nothing more than thought bubbles” until a Final Investment Decision (FID) – where an oil and gas project is approved for execution – is made.

Marine scientist Jason Fowler at the Environment Centre NT stated that “This project will have devastating impacts on biodiversity in the region, including on critical habitat for the threatened Flatback and Olive Ridley turtles.”

Fowler isn’t the only one concerned about the effects this gas project will have on the delicate ecosystem – Traditional Owners in the NT are, too, and they are taking legal action.

Tiwi Islander and Larrakia elders do not support the pipeline’s development, citing detrimental impacts on their sea country and marine life. Their Lawyers have filed for an injunction in a Seoul court to try to prevent South Korean export agencies providing almost $1 billion in loans for the project.

One of the plaintiffs in the case, Jikilaruwu Tiwi clan leader Daniel Munkara stated: “By taking the South Korean government to court to stop this gas project, we are protecting our family and our land.”

Another Indigenous elder – a Dangalaba Larrakia man – Kevin “Tibby” Quall said “The Barossa project is devastating for us and our future.”

Across Australia, the effects of climate change are evident from our west coast with record hot summers to our east coast with the worst flooding on record. The development of another carbon energy project is incredibly irresponsible. When we should be looking at renewable energy solutions, many in our government are still providing gas and oil corporations with opportunities to exploit our natural resources for profit at the expense of our planet. We must continue to fight and put pressure on our governments to divest from fossil fuels.

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