NT LNG project set to boost local jobs
Hundreds of jobs are expected to be created after the Northern Territory's largest private economic investment in a decade was given the green light.
Santos confirmed its financial commitment to the $3.6 billion Barossa gas field project, which will be located about 300km north of Darwin.
Barossa's final investment decision paves the way for an additional $800 million investment at the Darwin LNG facility to refit it and extend its life.
The projects are expected to generate about 600 jobs during construction and 350 at Darwin LNG over 20 years, with about $2.5 billion in wages and contracts expected to flow to Territorians.
"How great is it to see an Australian company that's delivering Australian gas that will benefit Australian people," a jubilant Federal Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said on Tuesday.
"Progress on the Barossa project means new investment, economic growth and development in the Northern Territory, and for Australia."
Mr Pitt said the Morrison government was determined to have a gas-led recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and planned to increase the domestic gas supply nationally to encourage manufacturing.
It's hoped the project will also attract more industries to the NT, which is pitching itself as a gateway to South-East Asia.
"Private investment is so important for our comeback from the coronavirus crisis, and we will continue to support this sector," NT Minister for Mining and Industry Nicole Mansion said.
The Barossa field contains over 4.5 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas and nearly 50 million barrels of condensate or crude oil, which could lead to the establishment of a petrochemical industry in Darwin.
The project is expected to produce an average of 3.7 million tonnes of LNG annually and provide valuable export revenue and business opportunities to assist the NT's cash-strapped economy.
Santos CEO Kevin Gallagher said local workers would be favoured over fly-in-fly-out personnel for the Barossa and Darwin LNG life extension projects.
Construction is expected to start in the coming months and take about four years, which includes building a pipeline within six kilometres of the Tiwi islands.
Mr Gallagher said gas would start flowing from Barossa to the Darwin LNG facility about 18-months after the supply from the Bayu-Undan gas field - located 250km off the southern coast of East Timor - ended.
Many workers at the facility would be redeployed to other jobs at Darwin LNG and none were likely to be made redundant, he said.
Environmentalists and social justice advocates warn the project could damage pristine global biodiversity areas in the Oceanic Shoals Marine Park, near the Tiwi Islands.
Greenhouse gas from the project may also significantly increase Australia's carbon emissions, the Jubilee Australia Research Centre, the Australia Institute and the Environment Centre NT said.
"It could be amongst the most polluting LNG projects in the world," a spokeswoman for the group said.
Barossa has a carbon dioxide (CO2) content of about 20 per cent and that is likely to be vented offshore, the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility said.
Marine scientist Jason Fowler - who was engaged by ECNT - questioned Santos's consultation with Tiwi people and the wider NT community, alleging it had "fallen far short of best practice".
Mr Gallagher said the demand for gas was growing and Australia's LNG was produced under the highest regulatory standards in the world.
"If we don't develop our gas here, they'll just buy it from somewhere else," he said.
The Barossa announcement is the largest private economic investment in the Territory since Inpex's Ichthys gas project decision in 2012.
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