The INPEX Ichthys Liquified Natural Gas plant is to be built on Blaydin Point on Middle Arm in Darwin Harbour from early 2012.
The project will be the largest and most polluting heavy industry in the Territory’s history, and risks focusing Territory Governments and businesses on a fossil fuel future for decades to come.
The Environment Centre NT recognises the major economic and employment benefits the project will bring to some Territorians, and considers that if such a plant is to be built it will have lower environmental impacts if it is built in Darwin than on the undeveloped Kimberley coast as originally proposed by the company.
The Environment Centre NT has opposed key elements of the project, and forced INPEX to commit to finding an alternative to damaging underwater blasting that risks killing, damaging and excluding coastal dolphins from that part of the harbour.
The project has a 40 year life for just Stage 1 (LNG trains 1 and 2), with potentially another four LNG trains to be built if additional as is secured in the decades ahead.
This illustrates the falsehood behind claims by INPEX, the LNG industry and many governments that gas is a transition fuel. Rather, projects like the INPEX gas plant will extend the fossil fuel era by many decades at a time when the world’s scientists are strongly warning of the need to very rapidly cut carbon pollution to avert highly dangerous climate change.
The company and environment regulators agree that there is absolutely no guarantee that INPEX’s gas will reduce the amount of dirtier oil or coal being burnt in Japan and other purchasing nations. Hence the real likelihood is that INPEX’s gas will not displace these dirtier fuels but simply add to global carbon pollution, particularly until a price on carbon is levied in purchasing nations and their governments legislate steep cuts in greenhouse emissions.
Our key recommendations to the company and regulators has been:
Make the project carbon neutral to ensure the Territory’s carbon pollution levels to do increase, and to drive a carbon offsetting economy. This means making INPEX invest funds to purchase offsets equivalent to average of 5 million tonnes of carbon pollution each year, particularly through improving land management, supporting improved energy efficiency and subsidising renewable energy.
Ban the use of damaging underwater blasting to prevent coastal dolphins, turtles and fish from being potentially killed, harmed or excluded from southeastern parts of the harbour. Walker Shoal should only be removed using a rock grinding dredge, or alternative method which is environmentally benign.
Mandate a major environmental compensation package to reduce the impacts of the development at the regional scale, through funding the creation and management of a network of National Parks, Nature Parks and Indigenous Protected Areas (with the free, prior and informed consent of Traditional Owners) around the southern and western parts of the harbour’s catchment and foreshore.