The $50 billion Gorgon LNG project will most probably get the go-ahead from Australia's federal environment ministry next week. The project which is estimated to create 6,000 jobs at its peak will underpin a massive expansion of liquefied natural gas (LNG) production across Australia.
However, federal environment minister Peter Garrett has said that his decision is not going to be just a rubber stamp.
Partners in the joint venture Chevron, Shell and ExxonMobil have not yet cleared the development but that is not expected to be a problem after the signing of a $50 billion contract to supply gas to PetroChina over the next 20 years.
The project has already booked around $300 billion worth of gas supply contracts, however the environment could prove to be the proverbial fly in the ointment, say analysts. The development could potentially threaten several endangered species, they say.
Given the size of the economic impact of the project there are concerns in some quarters that the environmental examination would probably end up as a mere formality.
Garrett is quick to scotch such talk and says that he is under no pressure whatsoever in relation to this project. He adds that he is free to discharge his duty as a regulator with having to look over his shoulders.