A group of protesters have blocked access to Woodside Petroleum’s Burrup Hub liquefied natural gas facilities in Western Australia in protest of its recent sanction of the Scarborough gas field development.
Three people formed a blockade early on Wednesday, chaining themselves to concrete barrels and using a car and trailer to block the road leading into the Burrup hub.
The hub is home to Woodside’s Karratha gas plant and Pluto LNG facilities, as well as Norwegian company Yara’s fertiliser and ammonia plants, while the protest is also preventing access by road to the Port of Dampier.
The activists are protesting Woodside’s decision this week to sanction its integrated US$12 billion Scarborough and Pluto Train 2 developments.
While the final investment decision has been welcomed by both state and federal governments, as well as Australian industry groups, it has drawn ire from environmental groups.
The Scarborough Gas Action Alliance, which is against the development, took to social media to claim the protest had stopped work at both of Woodside’s gas hubs on the Burrup Peninsular, citing police as saying up to 600 cars had been stopped from entering the Burrup.
Worker safety at risk
A Woodside spokesperson told Upstream that the company was “maintaining safe, reliable operations” at its Burrup facilities, while adding the health and safety of workers was the company’s main priority.
“Overnight, protesters took action that compromises the safety of people who are completing shifts at Woodside and other facilities on the Burrup Peninsula,” the spokesperson said.
“Woodside respects people’s rights to protest peacefully and lawfully but actions such as these that endanger the safety of others go beyond those rights.”
In a statement on Wednesday the Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) called for protesters to allow workers to enter or leave their workplaces on the Burrup Hub safely.
The union claims the protest is endangering the safety of workers who have finished night shift and those that were looking to start work for the day.
“This isn’t a fight you need to be having with our members, the workers just want to return home or get to work safely and do their job properly,” AMWU WA State Secretary Steve McCartney said.
“AMWU supports the future of green manufacturing and jobs and many of our members look forward to working in green industries, but for now they need to do the jobs that are available and do them safely.”
Emitting 1.6 billion tonnes of CO2
Climate change communications organisation the Climate Council released a statement on Wednesday claiming the Scarborough development would produce the same amount of carbon dioxide per annum as every car and motorbike on the road in Australia.
“The science is clear there can be no new coal, oil or gas projects — anywhere — if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change, and we need to phase out fossil fuels as quickly as possible not keep adding to the problem,” Climate Council senior researcher Tim Baxter said on Wednesday.
“Australians are already being harmed by worsening climate impacts. Expanding production of fossil fuels — especially through mega-projects like Woodside's irresponsible Scarborough project — will put more Australian lives and livelihoods at risk.”
The Conservation Council of WA estimates Scarborough will emit roughly 1.6 billion tonnes of CO2 over its 30-year lifetime, a figure Woodside chief executive Meg O’Neill confirmed in an interview with local radio this week following the sanctioning of the project.
That figure includes Scope 3 emissions, which are generated from the use of the gas by the end customer.
West Australian Premier Mark McGowan defended the project this week, telling local media: "When we export gas to China and Japan and they substitute it for coal, we are actually reducing emissions."