Subsea 7 Statement
STATEMENT FOR THE PROJECT PROPOSED LEARMONTH PIPELINE FABRICATION FACILITY
- Subsea 7 understands that Exmouth Gulf is environmentally important to local residents and visitors to the area.
- Subsea 7 is committed to delivering its project in a safe and environmentally responsible way.
- We have committed to a 12-week, no-launch period to protect migrating humpback whales and calves between August and October.
- Extensive safeguards will be taken during tow operations to safeguard marine life.
- The project will provide economic benefits for the local community and WA.
- Our project proposal is with the WA Environmental Protection Authority for assessment.
- The proposal is the culmination of more than two years’ work and research.
Subsea 7 is proposing to establish the Learmonth Pipeline Fabrication Facility at a site 35km south of Exmouth. Subsea 7 has extensive experience in Australia, where it has operated for more than 40 years providing services to major oil and gas operators.
The WA Environmental Protection Authority set the highest assessment level, a Public Environmental Review, for the project. Subsea 7 welcomes this approach.
Subsea 7 is committed to developing an environmentally safe and responsible project that can deliver benefits to the local community and Western Australia.
Subsea 7 was approached by The Project for an on-camera interview. That was not possible because the proposal was with the EPA and had not been released for public comment.
Subsea 7 has provided the following answers to questions from The Project.
1. What is Subsea 7’s proposal for the Heron Point site? The proposed Learmonth Pipeline Fabrication Facility will build pipeline bundles which consolidate all the communication lines, water pipes, electric cables, hydraulic systems, and heating lines needed for an offshore oil and gas facility inside one safe and secure outer steel carrier pipe. Subsea 7 operates the only other pipeline bundle facility in the world, in Wick, Scotland. The site has operated for 40 years and in that time there have been more than 80 bundles launched without incident
2. How would operations be carried out – ie. the process from manufacturing to towing? Subsea 7 will use the knowledge and experience gained in Wick to deliver a facility designed specifically for Learmonth and Exmouth Gulf. The proposed facility at Learmonth will allow for the assembly of pipeline bundles up to 10km long. The average length of the bundles we build at our other facility in Scotland is approximately 5km. The potential first projects for the proposed Learmonth Fabrication Facility all have bundle lengths of 5km or less. A bundle is built progressively in sections on site and them moved along tracks towards the launch area and onto a launchway that extends into the water. Subsea 7 estimates two, possibly three, launches a year. The pipeline bundle is launched from a track that extends 350m into Exmouth Gulf and is transported very slowly to a parking point about 30km offshore where it will be checked before continuing the rest of the journey.
3. Where would the pipe bundles be towed? A pipeline bundle is transported in three stages: Firstly, it is launched from the onshore facility to a parking point in Exmouth Gulf. Secondly, it is towed on the surface from the parking point through the Ningaloo Marine Park; and finally, it is towed beyond the Ningaloo Marine Park to a destination which is expected to be at least 40km offshore. The pipeline does not touch the seabed during the towing operation.
4. Has Subsea 7 addressed the impact that its operations would have on the Exmouth Gulf and Ningaloo Marine Park? a. Independent scientists are concerned about the impact of proposed development on the health of the Exmouth Gulf and its marine wildlife – have their concerns around turbidity, light pollution, noise pollution, water quality changes, hydrology changes and the introduction of marine pests been addressed? b. What measures would be in place to ensure the local ecosystems aren’t disrupted? Subsea 7 understands that Exmouth Gulf is environmentally important and is committed to delivering its project in a safe and environmentally sensitive way. In the past two years, Subsea 7 has commissioned more than 20 independent surveys and research studies to better understand the marine and terrestrial area around the proposed site and tow area. These studies are contained in the Public Environmental Review document that is with the WA Environmental Protection Authority for assessment and can be viewed when the document is release for public comment. The studies have examined humpback whale migration; migratory birds; fauna, including subterranean fauna; surface water and groundwater, visual impact; social impact; and economic benefits Subsea 7 has incorporated recommendations from researchers into the proposal . Subsea 7 has committed to a no-launch period of 12 weeks starting in August each year to account for the peak humpback whale migration period. When there is a launch, spotter planes and staff acting as spotters on support vessels will be used to minimise the chance of any interaction with marine life.
5. Scientists also say there’s not been enough research done in the Exmouth Gulf to properly understand the potential impacts of such a development – how has Subsea 7 addressed that? Subsea 7 conducted 20 independent surveys and research studies. This information has been used to enhance our understanding of Exmouth Gulf and the surrounding area. We will continue to conduct studies and surveys as our proposal progresses and continue to add to that knowledge. Our aerial humpback whale survey was the first such survey conducted since 2004. Our work so far and the knowledge we have gained is why we believe we can deliver this project in an environmentally responsible way.
6. Is Subsea 7’s site at Heron Point the only feasible site for this operation? Learmonth is the only feasible site. Ten sites were initially considered against a range of criteria including the maximum towing distance for a bundle, the open water tow operations and the proximity to existing towns and infrastructure. The site selection process