Jul 9, 2011

Major Project Facilitation: Shell’s browse basin LNG project

Major Project Facilitation: Shell’s browse basin LNG project

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

Minister for Infrastructure & Transport

Leader of the House

Member for Grayndler

9 July 2011

Given its potential to bring new, revolutionary technology to Australia and promote even greater investment in our North West resources province, I have granted Major Project Facilitation (MPF) status to Royal Dutch Shell’s $12 billion Prelude Floating Liquefied Natural Gas (FLNG) project.

It would also help meet the world’s growing demand for cleaner sources of energy.

By declaring the project “strategically significant”, I’m directing my departmental officials to do what they can to assist the company navigate and wherever possible, streamline the required planning and environmental approval processes. This declaration does not however guarantee a successful outcome.

If given the final go ahead by the relevant authorities, the project would develop the Prelude and Concerto gas fields located in the Browse Basin 475 kilometres north of Broome by deploying a specially built vessel to extract the gas from beneath the seabed and liquefy it on-board (see picture below).

Indeed it would be the world’s first floating liquefied natural gas facility. Fully operational, this 488 metre long vessel would weigh as much as six aircraft carriers and be strong enough to withstand a ‘Category 5’ cyclone.

Up until now, the liquefaction of offshore gas has always involved piping it to a land-based plant for processing.

The project would create up to 500 jobs during construction and further 350 long term jobs once the facility is in place as well as generate billions in additional taxes and export earnings.

Keen to maximise the lasting benefits of their multi-billion dollar investment in our resources sector, Shell is already working with local tertiary institutions on a program to train Australians in the use of FLNG technology.

Over the longer term, the success of this project would pave the way for the exploitation and commercialisation of other ‘stranded’ offshore gas reserves which are currently too difficult to access and too costly to develop.

The Gillard Labor Government has granted or renewed MPF status to projects collectively worth more than $100 billion with the potential to create over 40,000 jobs across the vital sectors of infrastructure, mining and resources, and advanced manufacturing.



The Major Project Facilitation program is administered by the Department of Infrastructure and Transport.

Under the program, the Department provides project proponents with a facilitation service to achieve quick and timely assistance from the Australian Government. The service ensures:

  • Access to information on government approval processes;
  • All relevant government processes are coordinated, including those of state and territory governments, so that as far as possible they occur simultaneously and without duplication;
  • Government agencies respond promptly to issues raised by the project proponent during the approval process; and
  • Assistance in identifying and accessing government programs is provided.

MPF status does not imply any Government guarantee for the commercial success or otherwise of the project, nor does it absolve the project from meeting less than the full statutory and other requisite criteria of relevant approval processes.

Proponents may apply to the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport for MPF status if their proposed project meets the following three criteria:

  1. The project is of strategic significance to Australia:
    • The project will significantly boost Australian industry innovation.
      1. Increasing research and development (R&D) and commercialisation capability; and/or
      2. A new application of skills and knowledge; and/or
      3. Technology transfer; and/or
      4. Cluster development.
    • Or, the project will have significant net economic benefit for regional Australia, taking account of a region’s investment needs.
    • Or, the project’s estimated investment exceeds A$50 million or makes a significant contribution to economic growth, employment and/or infrastructure.
  1. It requires Australian Government approval(s) in order to proceed and/or significant Australian Government involvement through, for example, federal programs.
  1. It has sufficient financial resources to complete the Australian Government approval(s) process and has demonstrated commercial viability.

Further details on the program are available from the Major Project Facilitation Unit within the Department of Infrastructure and Transport, GPO Box 594, CANBERRA, 2601 or telephone +61 2 6274 6684.

MPF Website: www.majorprojectfacilitation.gov.au