Premier Colin Barnett has fired a shot over the bow of the Browse joint venture partners, suggesting that he is prepared to use State Agreement Acts to ensure gas from the $30 billion-plus project is processed at his preferred greenfields site at James Price Point.
News this week that operator and major equity holder Woodside sold down a 15 per cent share of its 45 per cent stake in the 12-million-tonne-a-year Browse project to Japanese giants Mitsui and Mitsubishi sparked speculation from market analysts that gas was less likely to be processed at James Price Point and more likely to be piped 900km south to existing North West Shelf processing trains at Karratha.
While Woodside remains publicly committed to James Price Point, Browse's other joint venture partners BP, Shell, BHP Billiton and Chevron have advocated sending the gas to Karratha in a bid to further underpin that project. The entry of Mitsui and Mitsubishi means the make-up of the Browse partnership mirrors that of the 23-year-old North West Shelf venture.
James Price Point, 60km north of Broome, is preferred by the Premier, despite the noisy objections of environmentalists and some in the local indigenous community.