Woodside’s proposed Browse offshore gas project off the Western Australian coast will drive up carbon emissions and fuel climate and nature destruction Australia-wide.

Woodside and Santos are the biggest Australian-owned climate polluters. Both companies have massive gas expansion plans which include Santos’s Barossa gas project and Woodside’s Scarborough and Browse gas projects.

Climate destruction is already pushing the Australian wildlife we love like Northern quolls and Regent honeyeaters to the brink of extinction. Woodside and Santos’s new gas projects would unleash more extreme floods, heat waves, fires, droughts and storms, more often, destroying more animal habitat. 

The Australian Government must block the Browse gas project and protect our communities and nature from gas-fuelled climate devastation.

Where is the Browse gas basin?

The Browse gas basin is located offshore about 425km north of Broome, Western Australia.

Woodside is proposing to extract gas from the Browse basin, transport the gas about 900km across the Indian Ocean in pipelines, and then process the gas onshore at Karratha. Most of the gas would then be exported and sold overseas.

How will Browse gas harm nature across Australia?

Gas pollution

Offshore gas projects like Browse risk harm to wildlife and the environment at each step of their operations.

The biggest impact on nature comes from burning the processed gas for energy.

The lifetime emissions of Woodside's Browse project would be equivalent to 191% of Australia's emissions. Browse would have a uniquely high emissions intensity of almost double the Australian average because:

  • The Browse gas field contains a very high amount of CO2. Woodside would release that CO2 into the atmosphere when extracting the gas.
  • Of the considerable amount of energy required to extract gas from a low-pressure field and pump it 900km underwater.
  • Australia’s oldest and least efficient liquefied natural gas facility would process Browse gas.

Browse gas used in Australia or overseas, would dump carbon emissions into our atmosphere, heating our climate and fuelling destruction in Australia.

Alongside out-of-control bulldozing, climate-fuelled storms, droughts, floods, heat waves and fires are wiping out Australian habitat at an unprecedented rate.

Our unique wildlife is running out of places to live, like Palm cockatoos that keep losing the big, old hollow-bearing trees they build nests in. In December 2023, the Global Red List updated the Palm cockatoo to ‘near-threatened’ status. This is the story for too many Australian animals and plants that are found nowhere else in the world.

Palm Cockatoo in tree hollow.

Palm Cockatoo

Woodside’s Browse gas proposal would fuel more climate destruction that destroys Australia’s under-fire wildlife.

How will Browse gas harm nature locally?

Drilling for gas at the Browse gas field would destroy habitat, it could also create a blowout, spilling oil out into the Indian Ocean and nearby reefs.

In a worst-case scenario, an oil spill at Browse would leak gas and condensate for up to 77 days and reach the coasts of the Dampier Peninsula, Timor-Leste and Indonesia.

Woodside’s assessments show that, if a well blowout, spill or vessel rupture were to take place at Browse, 39 threatened animal species are at direct risk of being impacted, including the:

  • Pygmy blue whale
  • Blue whale
  • Fin whale
  • Sei whale
  • Short-nosed sea snake
  • Eastern Curlew
  • Southern giant petrel
  • Night parrot

Building underwater pipelines to transport Browse gas for about 900km would destroy habitat.

The Browse gas field is located in one of the richest marine environments in the world and contains the ecologically significant Scott Reef. Many species of whales and turtles, pods of dolphins and more marine life call these waters home.

In particular, Browse gas will have a big impact on whales.

Woodside plans to drill 54 wells in and around Scott Reef to extract gas and oil.

Woodside’s proposal is a massive threat to Australian nature.

Pygmy blue whale swimming

Pygmy blue whale.

Why is carbon capture and storage bad for our climate?

Woodside is proposing to use ‘carbon capture and storage technology’ to mitigate Browse’s carbon emissions.

Carbon capture and storage is flawed because it:

  • faces huge technological challenges
  • does not cut emissions to the levels required to tackle climate change
  • is so expensive it can’t compete with cheaper and more effective renewable technologies
  • and only has a handful of working projects in its 50-year history, with many projects failing and continuing to fail

A massive, new gas project like Browse would take much-needed investment and opportunity away from renewable energy sources like wind and solar.

Australia’s uptake of wind and solar energy is paving the way for a fossil-fuel-free energy future and a safer climate that our forests, rivers and wildlife need to survive.

The quicker that renewable energy replaces fossil fuels like coal and gas, the better it is for nature. At every step, the creation of renewable energy must take every step to ensure the protection of nature, like:

  • Improving Australia’s energy efficiency, so our homes, businesses and industries need less overall energy
  • Building renewables on top of already disturbed ecosystems, close to cities and regional industrial precincts
  • Steering clear of Australia’s high-value ecosystems and habitats.

Australian Conservation Foundation