The Joint Authority for the Commonwealth-Western Australia Offshore Area has granted a variation to the conditions of the retention leases of the Woodside-operated Browse LNG Project to allow more time to complete necessary studies, approvals and project design.


The Browse Joint Venture is now required to be in a position to apply for a production licence and take a final investment decision during the first half of 2013, instead of mid-2012. The Joint Venture has not sought an extension of the overall term of the retention lease, which remains set to expire in December 2014.


“In granting the variation, Minister Moore and I recognise the complexities of the Browse LNG development and the need to ensure that the Browse Joint Venture has sufficient information to make a sound decision on the commercial viability of the project,” Federal Minister for Resources and Energy Martin Ferguson said.


“The Browse LNG Project will require a very large capital investment – for comparison, the recently announced Ichthys Project was valued by the proponents at US$34 billion, which is a significant investment by anyone’s standards.


“This decision enables the Joint Venture to address the barriers to commercialising the project while also ensuring the most efficient development of the Browse gas reserves.”


The retention leases cover the Torosa, Calliance and Brecknock gas fields in the Browse Basin, offshore of Western Australia. The fields are estimated to contain around 15.5 trillion cubic feet of gas and 417 million barrels of condensate.


Browse Joint Venture partners Woodside, BHP Billiton, BP, Chevron and Shell are progressing the regulatory approvals for a 12 million tonnes per annum LNG development to be located at the proposed Kimberley LNG Precinct at James Price Point, 60 kilometres north of Broome.