‘Twiggy’ Forrest attacks Woodside’s ‘death race’ gas project

Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest wants the potential impact on climate change of Woodside's project to be assessed.

Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest wants the potential impact on climate change of Woodside's project to be assessed. Photo: AAP

Billionaire mining magnate Dr Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest has taken to the air and ocean to continue his crusade against fossil fuels and Woodside Energy.

The founder of Perth-based Fortescue Metals Group and a group of scientists sailed to waters off the West Australian coast where Woodside is conducting seismic testing for its controversial $16.5 billion Scarborough gas project.

In a video filmed from the bridge of a vessel and a helicopter, Forrest warns that “Australia’s biggest carbon bomb” will exacerbate global warming and harm vulnerable marine life.

He accuses Woodside of ignoring the recent COP28 resolution to ditch fossil fuels and says the oil and gas producer is engaged in a “furious race to destroy the planet” for profit.

“This project is going to last at least 50 years and it will destroy the environment around us,” he said.

“This death race to the finish of oil and gas is a death race for humanity if we let them get away with it.”

The philanthropist rich-lister and trained marine scientist is scathing of the company’s industry regulator-approved seismic blasting to identify oil and gas reservoirs below the sea floor, saying it will pump out massive soundwaves every eight to 15 seconds for up to 80 days.

“Sonic blows into the water going down several kilometres … going through the membranes of mammals, fish, rare endangered species, whales, which are using this pristine corridor to go from the tropics to the Antarctic,” he said from the chopper, above a seismic testing vessel.

The scientific team from Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation has expressed concerns for endangered pygmy blue whales that migrate through the area and other sea life.

“The ocean is increasingly becoming a very noisy place and this kind of seismic testing has a cumulative effect over time on a lot of animals and we don’t understand what the consequences of that are,” chief scientist Tony Worby said.

The WA government-backed gas project, which includes drilling 13 offshore wells, a 430-kilometre pipeline and the redevelopment of Woodside’s onshore processing facility, has also been criticised by environmental groups, including Greenpeace.

Woodside expects to process about five to eight million tonnes of gas per year from it, which critics say could result in the release of an estimated 878 million tonnes of carbon across the project’s lifetime.

Forrest, who is Australia’s second richest person, wants the project’s potential impact on climate change to be assessed, saying the planet is warming quickly and urgent action is required.

“Projects like this are destroying our planet. We don’t need them. We have all the solar and all the wind energy we ever need,” he said.

“We’ve got to stop buying oil and gas. We’ve got to stop buying coal. We’ve got to put projects like this out of business.”

Forrest, who made his fortune from Fortescue, the fourth-largest iron ore producer in the world, said last month the chiefs of fossil fuel companies’ heads “should be put on spikes” while campaigning against the industry at the COP28 conference in Dubai.

He also accused Woodside boss Meg O’Neill of “peddling poison”, which was widely condemned as setting a low bar for public debate.

A Woodside spokeswoman has said the company is proud of its contribution to the national economy.

“Our Scarborough energy project will create more than 3000 jobs in the construction phase and add almost 600 new operational jobs,” she said.

The onshore facility is located on the Burrup Peninsula, about 30 kilometres west of Karratha in WA’s Pilbara region, is also known as Murujuga to traditional owners, and contains the world’s largest and oldest collection of petroglyphs.

The Scarborough gas field is located in the Carnarvon Basin, about 375 kilometres off the WA coast.

Woodside has been contacted for comment.

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