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Deep-sea disaster: why Woodside's Barrup Hub project is too risky to proceed

Biodiversity conservation Fossil fuels Risk assessment Environmental impacts Resources industry Western Australia

Woodside Energy’s Burrup Hub is the largest fossil fuel project currently proposed in Australia, involving the extraction of six untapped gas fields and the drilling of 84 wells off the Western Australian coast. The Burrup Hub project includes two major gas projects - Scarborough and Browse - and the transport of this gas onshore via undersea trunklines ranging between 430km (Scarborough) and 900km (Browse) in length.

Using Woodside’s own documents provided to state and federal regulators, Greenpeace has mapped Woodside’s Burrup Hub offshore infrastructure and its spill and accident scenarios using Geographic Information Software (GIS) data. This mapping shows that Woodside’s proposed infrastructure runs directly through or adjacent to habitats critical to threatened and migratory species as well as coral reef ecosystems. It also shows, for the first time, the full geographic extent of a worst-case gas spill or other accident on protected marine ecosystems as well as the coastlines of Western Australia, East Timor and Indonesia.

Greenpeace Australia Pacific has also undertaken two case studies of specific ecosystems and species that would be harmed by a spill or blowout at one of Woodside’s Burrup Hub projects.

For the purposes of this report, Greenpeace has modelled Woodside’s own information. However, there is a risk that Woodside has underestimated the worst-case scenarios and the required response. The risks are too great to rely on Woodside’s information alone - an independent assessment of a worst case scenario well blowout, spill or vessel rupture at Woodside’s projects is needed. An independent assessment is also needed of whether Woodside’s accident response plans are adequate to address these risks.

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