This mining will disrupt delicate marine habitats, endanger whale migration paths and involve building a pipeline through the protected Montebello Marine Park, harming dolphins, turtles, sharks, rays, and sea snakes.
Cultural heritage impacts
Once the fossil fuel gas has been drilled out of the sea floor it will be piped through ecologically important marine habitats to Murujuga, where emissions from its processing will increase air acidity and potentially damage 40,000 year old Aboriginal rock art.
Scarborough will produce 1.6 billion tonnes of carbon emissions over the next quarter of a century – that’s equivalent to nearly 15 coal fired power stations – making Scarborough one of the most damaging fossil fuel developments in Australia.
The Scarborough project is just the beginning
Scarborough is only the first phase of Woodside’s massive offshore gas mining scheme, the Burrup Hub. They plan to expand underwater mining even further into the Browse Basin, where they will mine the unique Scott Reef, which supports unique ecosystems found nowhere else on earth.
Woodside’s plan to mine in and around Scott Reef would threaten a critical sanctuary for nesting sea turtles, pygmy blue whales, the extremely rare dwarf sperm whale, huge pods of dolphins and other endangered marine species.
Who invests in Woodside and Scarborough?
The Scarborough mine will cost around $16 billion dollars (AUD). Woodside needs to massively expand the existing Pluto gas processing facility to handle the new gas from Scarborough, and that is very expensive.
Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) – a faceless corporation investing equity and debt – has entered into a purchase agreement for a 49% stake in Woodside’s planned Pluto Train 2 LNG project. However, the deal offers GIP concessions on regulatory, carbon and construction risks.
Of the big 4 banks, Westpac, CommBank and ANZ have collectively loaned $1 billion to Woodside. Recently, ANZ and Westpac have been named as lead arrangers on a $1.2 billion USD refinancing of corporate loans to Woodside (June 2022).
Can Woodside be trusted?
Woodside is one of Australia’s biggest fossil fuel companies, with multiple scandals to their name, and undue influence over state and federal politics.
The Scarborough project is a risky offshore deepwater project, meaning their track record on marine and emissions management should raise the alarm bells.
Woodside’s marine and emissions scandals:
- They hid a huge oil spill for months and told no one about it.
- They tried to abandon 400 tonnes of plastic on the seafloor and call it an ‘artificial reef’.
- They tried to get out of paying for the clean up bill for one of their rusted old gas processing facilities, potentially leaving taxpayers with a billion dollar clean up.
- Woodside’s own failed maintenance means they tried to sink an old 83 metre long underwater mining mooring just outside Ningaloo Marine Park.
- In 2019 Woodside forced the WA Government and Environmental Protection Agency to abandon new emission offset rules, allowing unlimited pollution from Woodside’s gas mines.
Woodside undermining human rights, worker’s rights and gender equality across the world:
- SENEGAL: Woodside’s Senegalese operations would have potentially devastating consequences for Senegal’s coastal communities, and especially women, who are already struggling to feed their families due to the pressures of overfishing and climate change.
- MYANMAR: Then Woodside CEO, Peter Coleman, suggested the nation’s former civilian leaders ignored the army’s grievances in the lead-up to the military coup.
- AUSTRALIA: Woodside fired hundreds of employees during the pandemic. So much for gas creating jobs!
The Australian Government spied on East Timor to benefit Woodside:
- The Australian Secret Intelligence Service spied on the East Timorese Government in order to gain advantage in negotiations for oil and gas fields that Woodside went on to exploit.
- Then Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, is reported to have ordered ASIS to spy on East Timor, which benefitted Woodside. Downer later walked into a lucrative role working for Woodside.