Cockatoo Island supply base proposal

Glenn CordingleyBroome Advertiser
An aerial view of Cockatoo Island. Photo: Nic Ellis
Camera IconAn aerial view of Cockatoo Island. Photo: Nic Ellis Credit: Nic Ellis

The fight for big oil is on in the Kimberley after a consortium signalled it wanted to build a multi-user supply base north of Derby, which could be used by energy companies currently based in Broome.

Joint venture Kimberley Technology Solutions wants to construct a multi-user supply base at Cockatoo Island — 7km off the coast and 130km north of Derby — comprising an upgraded airfield for fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, along with a wharf and accommodation village.

The development would fall within the Shire of Derby West Kimberley, which is desperate to reinstate regular passenger flights from Derby to Perth.

And it would have the potential to cater for Shell and Inpex helicopters operating from Broome as well as oil and gas support vessels and passenger cruise ships operating in the Kimberley.

The proposed new wharf would run parallel to the shoreline.

The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation is seeking comment on whether or not the agency should assess the proposal and, if so, what level would be considered appropriate.

Shell and Inpex use Broome as a base to fly staff to and from the Browse Basin via Djarindjin on the Dampier Peninsula and the port is utilised by support vessels.

An Inpex spokesman said there was “no immediate intention to alter our current Broome/Djarindjin logistics operations”.

“As a prudent operator, we periodically review opportunities for how to best meet our logistics requirements, in line with our key business objectives,” he said.

Broome International Airport chief executive Paul McSweeney said BIA was continuing to focus on providing excellent services and infrastructure to oil and gas companies operating in the Browse.

“We have a world-class heliport, and all the other necessary requirements to be a very effective service hub that includes accommodation, restaurants, cafes, hospital, regular flights, an RFDS base and so on, ” he said.

Broome Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Peter Taylor said the plan was similar to one proposed for nearby Koolan Island in 2015, which never got off the ground and failed to obtain government support.

He said jobs and economic benefits to Broome would be lost by moving the supply base offshore.

A report from consultant GHD said there were no plans to install underground tanks because all aircraft refuelling would take place in Derby.

But it said some helicopters would be fuelled on-site from above ground tanks.

The plan includes a three-bay helicopter hangar.

The development could cater for Shell and Inpex helicopters operating from Broome as well as oil and gas support vessels and passenger cruises in the Kimberley.

A Shell spokesman said a number of options for aviation requirements were investigated and using Broome and Djarindjin to service the Prelude FLNG facility met with company requirements.

Shire of Derby West Kimberley president Elsia Archer declined to comment “until we find out more about the proposal”.

However, the report said the council was one of several organisations and agencies that were part of an “extensive” stakeholder engagement process outlining the plan.

Shire of Broome president Ron Johnston said any dilution of air and sea services to a regional centre like Broome would “be to the detriment of the entire Kimberley”.

Mr Johnston said he would raise the Cockatoo Island proposal with the State Government at the “first opportunity”.

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