Woodside’s (ASX:WPL) US$12bn Scarborough gas project is heading closer towards development with the receipt of the key pipeline licence and approval for the field development plan (FDP).

The pipeline licence allows the company to construct and operate the Scarborough pipeline in Commonwealth waters that will link the project to the Pluto LNG project while the FDP enables petroleum recovery operations from Petroleum Production Licences WA-61-L and WA-62-L.

Woodside and its partner BHP Petroleum (ASX:BHP) had approved Scarborough in November 2021 to fuel the US$5.6bn Pluto Train 2 development that is expected to start shipping LNG cargoes in 2026.

Chief executive officer Meg O’Neill said the two approvals are amongst the final Commonwealth and Western Australian state approvals required to develop the project.

“Developing Scarborough delivers value for Woodside shareholders and significant long-term benefits locally and nationally, including thousands of jobs, taxation revenue and energy security here and abroad,” she added.

“The Scarborough reservoir contains only 0.1% carbon dioxide, and Scarborough gas processed through the efficient and expanded Pluto LNG facility supports the decarbonisation goals of our customers in Asia,” she said.

Development of the 11.1 trillion cubic feet project will include the installation of a floating production unit (FPU) with eight wells drilled in the initial phase and thirteen wells drilled over its production life.


Scarborough opposition continues to build

However, not everyone agrees with Woodside’s claims that the project will support decarbonisation efforts.

The Australian Greens – well known for their opposition to any fossil fuel developments – have come out swinging with leader Adam Brandt confirming that Scarborough is just one 114 projects that the party wants to halt.

Meanwhile, the Conservation Council of WA has never been shy about making its opposition to the project known despite having the failure of its Supreme Court challenge to the project.

The group maintains that the Environmental Protection Authority failed to properly assess Woodside’s Scarborough gas development, saying it will bring dangerous levels of carbon and methane pollution, accelerate climate damage and have a serious impact on the prevalence of extreme weather events, like bushfires.

Australia has also been accused by Greenpeace Australia Pacific of being out of step with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s call to end fossil fuel developments, with the approval of Scarborough considered a notable example of how Australia is still pushing ahead with gas developments.