MELBOURNE, Feb. 24 -- Australia Pacific LNG, a joint venture of Origin Energy Ltd., Sydney, and ConocoPhillips, was given environmental approval by the Australian government for its proposed $35 billion (Aus.) coalseam gas (CSG) to LNG project at Gladstone on the central east coast of Queensland.
The approval is conditional on a number of environmental strategies and ongoing monitoring and reporting requirements being put in place. In response to the continuing controversy about water management in the Great Artesian basin where the CSG fields are located, the government has required early-warning thresholds and detailed ongoing monitoring.
Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke said the companies must submit for approval water management and monitoring plans that detail how impacts on aquifers, groundwater and surface water will be minimized, including strict limits to maintain aquifer pressures.
“Water pressure must be maintained above conservative thresholds that will be set on the advice of experts,” he said. “Should these be exceeded the companies must have plans ready to reestablish pressure, through to reinjection or other means.”
Other conditions for APLNG include protection measures for threatened species and ecological communities, migratory species, and national and world heritage values. The LNG plant on Curtis Island near Gladstone will be required to minimize light and noise, reduce vessel speeds as well as limiting vessel movements, and to manage feral species and weeds.
Dredging activity will be subject to strict conditions to minimize impacts on marine species and water quality.
The APLNG project involves development of a 14-15 million tonne/year plant fed by coal seam gas reserves from the Surat-Bowen basins in Queensland. First LNG is scheduled for 2014, although delays now have put this deadline in doubt.
In addition, APLNG has to secure a foundation customer for the project.
Two other CSG-LNG projects earmarked for Gladstone (BG Group and Santos-Petronas-Total-Kogas) have already secured customers and have been given their final investment approvals.
CSG-LNG project gets environmental approval