Sydney Morning Herald
November 8, 2021
Woodside is planning to risk sanctioning its $16 billion Scarborough LNG project in December without having the major regulatory approvals in place, according to an analysis the Conservation Council of WA (CCWA) will send to investors.
The analysis comes as Woodside is reportedly negotiating with US-based Global Infrastructure Partners to reduce the financial burden of Scarborough by selling equity in an expansion of the Pluto LNG plant that will process the gas.
Momentum behind legal challenges to fossil fuel projects is growing and the lack of one critical approval could throw the company-defining project into disarray.
Woodside is seeking to expand its Pluto LNG plant in Western Australia to process gas from its Scarborough field.
CCWA policy director Piers Verstegen said the project still required approvals from at least five regulatory authorities.
Woodside and partner BHP, which is in the process of selling its oil and gas interests including Scarborough to Woodside, plan to commit to the project by December 15.
“Nowhere in Woodside’s market disclosures has the company released a full list of approvals required, what progress has been made, and the outstanding risks,” Mr Verstegen said.
“Any one of the many issues identified in our analysis could cause major disruptions, delays or cost blowouts for the project,
“It is not surprising that Woodside has struggled to find an investor willing to buy into this project given the high-risk gamble that the company wants to take.”
The CCWA has challenged a decision by the WA Environmental Protection Authority to allow the Pluto LNG plant, which was initially approved to only process gas from the Pluto gas field, to receive gas from anywhere, including Scarborough. The WA Supreme Court will hear the dispute on December 20.