If it proceeds, Scarborough will mine the seafloor 300 kilometres from the coast of Western Australia, and in dangerously deep water. The fossil gas will be mechanically drilled from depths which are more than 900 metres below sea level.
This mining will disrupt delicate marine habitats, endanger whale migration paths and involves building a pipeline through the protected Montebello Marine Park, harming dolphins, sharks, rays, sea snakes and the crucial breeding grounds for four different species of turtle.
The Scarborough gas project is a direct threat to some of Australia’s most extraordinary marine life.
In order to construct its massive offshore gas mine, Woodside would need to blast and dredge millions of cubic metres of seabed; hammer giant concrete piles into the ocean floor; and dump millions of tonnes of dredge sea bed spoil including sand, gravel, mud and clay across the Dampier Archipelago – a collection of islands and ocean. Green, loggerhead, flatback and hawksbill turtles nest on the beaches. Wildlife thrive on the islands including Rothschild’s rock-wallabies and northern quolls.
The area is home to dolphins, sharks, fish, turtles, corals and it’s on whale migration paths. These marine populations are particularly sensitive to the noise pollution and seismic activity which is part of the Scarborough construction process.
The risk of damage from the project is too great even if accident-prone Woodside avoids a major spill. But if the worst does happen, then there are several marine parks and protected areas in the firing line. Just like our national parks on land, marine sanctuaries provide protection for wildlife and habitats.
Scarborough is only the first phase of Woodside’s massive proposed offshore gas mining scheme, the Burrup Hub. If the second phase of this goes ahead, mining gas from the Browse Basin will literally involve drilling in and around the unique Scott Reef, which supports ecosystems not found anywhere else on earth.
Woodside’s plan to mine in and around Scott Reef would threaten a critical sanctuary for nesting sea turtles, pygmy blue whales, and the extremely rare dwarf sperm whale, huge pods of dolphins and other species of endangered marine life.
When greedy fossil fuel companies drill in our oceans, disasters strike.
Earlier this year, in the Gulf of Mexico, the ocean caught fire. It was caused by a leak from an underwater gas pipeline. Woodside’s Scarborough gas project would mean 430km of underwater gas pipeline through WA’s oceans.
Woodside has already had an oil spill off WA’s coastline. In 2016, one of Woodside’s deep sea wells malfunctioned and led to an oil spill. The leak lasted for two entire months, pumping oil directly into WA’s marine environment. If they’ve done it once, what’s to stop it happening again? And to precious Scott Reef? We shouldn’t let any fossil fuel company drill WA’s ocean floor, much less a company who has already shown they can’t be trusted.