Woodside Energy is upbeat about the future of its North West Shelf (NWS) liquefied natural gas extension project in Western Australia, following a key report from the state’s Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

However, the EPA is keen that greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, which could require the operator to “avoid, reduce and/or offset the total quantity of reservoir carbon dioxide released to the atmosphere” through to the end of 2029.

The EPA has recommended important environmental conditions for the continuing operations of the NWS LNG and domestic gas project in the decades ahead.


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The existing NWS project comprises five liquefaction trains with combined nameplate capacity of 18.5 million tonnes per annum of LNG and two domestic gas trains.

Woodside’s extension proposal envisages utilising these facilities for the long-term processing of third-party gas and fluids and from the NWS joint venture’s own fields up to 2070.

The operator said there could be potential changes to the feed gas composition in the coming decades and potential changes to the composition of environmental discharges and emissions.

Woodside in its extension proposal said it would continue to assess emissions reduction opportunities including for CO2, nitrous oxide and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

The EPA noted the operator had provided a greenhouse gas emissions trajectory to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and had committed to reducing NOX and VOC emissions by 40% by the end of 2030.

With no mitigation, Scope 1 greenhouse gas emissions are estimated to be up to 7.7 million tpa of CO2 equivalent (CO2-e) and, over the 50-year life of the extension proposal, total Scope 1 greenhouse gas emissions are estimated to be up to 385 million tonnes of CO2-e, according to the authority.

“With mitigation presented in the proponent’s greenhouse gas management plan [GHGMP], GHG emissions from the extension proposal are estimated to commence at 7.7 million tpa of CO2-e and achieve net-zero GHG emissions by 2050 by reducing such emissions by 246.15 million tonnes of CO2-e,” the EPA said.

Achieving targets

The authority added that emissions should be partially offset through the purchase and surrender of offsets to make-up any shortfall in achieving the reduction targets for net Scope 1 greenhouse gas emissions through avoidance and reduction actions.

Woodside estimated that its extension proposal’s Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions from the third-party consumption of LNG, liquid petroleum gas, domestic gas and condensate would be about 80.19 million tpa of CO2-e based on currently available and quantifiable information, while the associated Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions are considered to be minimal.

“The EPA considers it reasonable to recommend a condition requiring the proponent to avoid, reduce and/or offset the total quantity of reservoir carbon dioxide released to the atmosphere from the date the Ministerial statement for the extension proposal is issued to 2029,” the authority stated.

The EPA noted that, from 2030, the proponent’s proposed emissions reduction targets will exceed the equivalent amount of the estimated reservoir CO2 in the gas feed.

The recommended conditions to 2029 will reduce net Scope 1 greenhouse gas emissions over the 50-year life from 138.85 million tonnes of CO2-e to 128.2 million tonnes of CO2-e.

“The EPA considers it is reasonable to recommend a condition which requires the extension proposal to achieve GHG emissions limits along a trajectory to net zero by 2050… and recommends the GHGMP is implemented subject to the emissions reduction limits and continuous improvement through ongoing five-yearly reviews,” the authority said.

Woodside Energy executive vice president for Australian operations Fiona Hick said the NWS joint venture would carefully consider the conditions outlined by the EPA.

“After extended engagement with the EPA and relevant stakeholders over more than three years, the release of the EPA Report and recommended conditions marks an important step towards securing the future of the NWS Project and ongoing benefits for our community,” Hick said.

“At a time of heightened concern around energy security, the NWS Project has an important role to play in delivering natural gas to local and international customers, providing energy that can support their decarbonisation commitments,” she added.

Critical infrastructure

The Woodside-operated NWS project since start-up in 1984 alongside LNG exports has supplied more than 5970 petajoules of domestic gas, which is equal to 15 times the total anticipated demand for natural gas in Western Australia this year.

“The continued operation of this critical infrastructure can unlock new gas supply for Western Australian and global customers, supporting the delivery of affordable and reliable energy for years to come,” Woodside said.

“Additionally, the NWS continues to be a significant contributor to Australian GDP and a major employer, providing jobs and investment in the Pilbara region and the state of Western Australia.”

The continued development of natural gas through the NWS aligns with Woodside’s climate strategy.

The strategy has two key elements — reducing Woodside’s net equity Scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions towards an aspiration of net zero by 2050, or sooner, and investing in the products and services that its customers need as they reduce their emissions.

Woodside, as operator of the NWS project, last year spent more than A$1 billion (US$689 million) with Western Australia-based businesses and continues to invest millions of dollars in education and training initiatives that benefit hundreds of young people in Karratha and Roebourne each year.