Kimberley whales are safe from Woodside, but what about those at Scott Reef?

Woodside gas has shelved plans to build a gas hub at James Price Point, but still plans to drill at Scott Reef.Earlier in the month, Oil and gas giant Woodside shelved plans to build the gas hub at James Price Point, north of Broome, in the Kimberley, in a significant win for the humpback whales that migrate to the area every year to give birth to and nurse their young and to breed.

It wasn’t just environmentalists who were happy with this outcome; Woodside’s share price jumped on the back of the announcement, demonstrating that savvy investors were fully aware of the economic folly of pushing ahead with an environmentally destructive and socially divisive proposal.

It seems Woodside has now struck a deal with Shell to use Shell’s floating platform technology to access gas reserves in the Browse Basin instead of piping it to the Kimberley. So while the coastal humpback whale nursery may be safe for now, other whales likely to be affected by the project face an uncertain future.

This is because some of the gas is found directly under Scott Reef, a magnificent coral atoll in the Browse Basin, 300 km north of the Kimberley.

Scott Reef is home to a wide range of marine life, including blue whales that migrate past the reef and feed there on their way south to Australian waters from likely breeding grounds in Indonesia. Ironically, we know this because of research Woodside was forced to commission and publish in order to seek approval to drill there.

What’s tragic is that Woodside then ignored its own research last year to conduct another seismic survey at Scott Reef at exactly the time the blue whales arrive there. These same whales, and the vast array of marine life at this wonderful coral atoll, will have to contend with deep sea drilling and destructive activities should work begin to extract the gas there.

It’s not just Woodside that has its eye on blue whale feeding grounds. As we’ve mentioned before Bight Petroleum wants to conduct a seismic survey off Kangaroo Island, another blue whale hotspot and home to many other whales, dolphins, sea lions and other marine life.

The decision is still pending on this application so please help us keep up the pressure on Environment Minister, Tony Burke and retweet our message below, or follow this link to create your own tweet directly to him.


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Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Matt Collis, Director, International Policy
Director, International Policy
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation