The Pilbara’s natural gas stores are under a new spotlight, with the State Government pushing to establish a natural gas fuelling hub for bulk vessels in the region, which could create more than 100 local jobs.
The McGowan Government announced last week it would offer a 50 per cent discount in port dues to bulk vessels bunkering with liquefied natural gas at Pilbara ports — saving each ship about $20,000 — to come into effect on July 1.
To help kickstart the shift to LNG fuelling in the Pilbara, the Pilbara Ports Authority has issued Australia’s first ship-to-ship LNG bunkering services licences to Woodside Energy at Port Hedland and Dampier.
The Government expects the transition of iron ore exports shipped from the Pilbara from heavy fuel-oil vessels to LNG-fuelled vessels could reduce carbon emissions by up to 6 million tonnes a year.
Woodside said it welcomed the incentive.
“Establishing LNG bunkering in the Pilbara is an opportunity to leverage existing LNG production to provide cleaner, lower carbon marine fuel and create a number of new jobs,” it said.
“The Government’s move is another demonstration of support for this new industry, following the recent award to Woodside of long-term licences for ship-to-ship LNG bunkering in the ports of Dampier and Port Hedland.
“This support will also help WA compete with other ports in the region to become the preferred refuelling hub for the next generation of low-emissions ships.”
Minister for Ports Alannah MacTiernan said major companies had already tendered for LNG-fuelled bulk vessels to carry iron ore from the Pilbara and were beginning negotiations about where to bunker those ships.
“Importantly, a Pilbara LNG Bunkering Hub provides the platform for Western Australia to become the region’s major renewable hydrogen producer and fuelling stop — driving down carbon emissions from shipping and creating a whole new industry for the Pilbara,” she said.
Member for the Pilbara Kevin Michel said the Government was taking bold steps to create new, long-term local jobs in the Pilbara.