Woodside should “use or lose Browse gas lease”

Indigenous leader and businessman Wayne Bergmann has backed FMG’s call for energy giant Woodside to “use or lose” their massive Browse Basin gas field leases.

Mr Bergmann, a pivotal player in the failed Indigenous bid to create a gas hub at James Price Point north of Broome which would have delivered more than $1billion worth of social benefits to Kimberley Aborigines, said there were provisions in the law that should be examined to strip Woodside of their retention leases if they didn’t “get off their backsides” and do something with them.

“These resources are owned by Australians, not Woodside, and if they can’t make up their mind about what to do with these assets within a reasonable time, they should be stripped of them and given to companies that have the willingness and determination to get the job done,” he said.

Last week The Australian reported that Fortescue chief executive Nev Power wanted Woodside, which has come under pressure over its recent share price and decision-making, to develop the massive gas fields or the law should allow other parties to do so.

Mr Power said it was disappointing there was still no clear path towards development of the Browse fields which were discovered more than four decades ago.

“From an LNG point of view, sure, companies have to make a decision about when it’s viable to develop those (fields), but we think that there are a number of smaller deposits included within that Browse group that could be developed for domestic gas,” he told The Australian.

Woodside and its partners have shelved plans for a $50 billion floating liquefied natural gas development (FLNG), blaming poor oil and gas prices for the decision.

But Mr Bergmann, a part owner of the National Indigenous Times, said it seemed Woodside “swung with the breeze” when it came to hard decision-making.

“There should be an open tender process to pressure companies to move forward on developing the off-shore asset, as there is Native title consent and community support for the onshore processing of LNG,” Mr Bergmann said.

“It is in the public interest that these gas fields be developed to give wider community benefits. They will also have a multiplier effect, giving all Australian opportunity to work and prosper.”



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