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Thursday, 11 October 2012
Page: 8107

Browse Joint Venture

(Question No. 2134)


Senator Siewert asked the Minister for Resources and Energy, upon notice, on 5 September 2012:

With reference to the proposed Browse liquefied natural gas (LNG) precinct at James Price Point and the recent comments made by the Premier of Western Australia that the Woodside led joint venture ''may lose their gas rights'' if they do not develop an LNG plant at James Price Point:

(1) Does the Western Australian Government have the power to remove retention leases from the joint venture partners; if so, (a) is such a decision required to be jointly made with the Federal Government; and (b) what other conditions must be satisfied before the removal of retention leases can take place.

(2) Which ministers or entities have the power to make a decision to remove retention leases from the Browse joint venture partners and under what conditions.

(3) Has a unitisation agreement been determined regarding the amount of royalties Western Australia would receive from the proposed Browse LNG joint venture gas fields.


Senator Chris Evans: The Minister for Resources and Energy has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's questions:

(1) The Browse Joint Venture holds seven offshore petroleum retention leases, five of which are located in Commonwealth waters offshore of Western Australia and two of which are located in Western Australian state waters.

The Western Australian Government has responsibility for decisions in relation to the two offshore petroleum retention leases that are located within Western Australian state waters.

In respect of the five offshore petroleum retention leases in Commonwealth waters, the Commonwealth-Western Australia Offshore Petroleum Joint Authority, comprising the Western Australian Minister for Mines and Petroleum, the Hon Norman Moore MLC, and the Commonwealth Minister for Resources and Energy, the Hon Martin Ferguson AM MP, is the decision-maker in relation to the management (grant, renewal, suspension, variation or cancellation) of offshore petroleum titles. Decisions in relation to these titles are made jointly between the two Ministers. Where disagreement occurs between the members of the Joint Authority, the Commonwealth Minister may decide the matter and the Commonwealth Minister's decision has effect as the decision of the Joint Authority.

The Joint Authority may consider cancelling an offshore petroleum title under the Offshore Petroleum and Greenhouse Gas Storage Act 2006 (the Act) where the titleholder has not complied with:

a condition to which the title is subject;

a direction given to the titleholder by the Commonwealth Minister, NOPSEMA or the Joint Authority;

a provision of the Act or regulations; or

the payment of royalties.

The Joint Authority must take into account any action taken by the titleholder to remove the ground(s) of cancellation or to prevent the recurrence of similar grounds. The titleholder must be consulted in the course of the Joint Authority's decision-making process.

(2) See response to Question 1 above.

(3) No.