Last update:

Woodside's Burrup gas hub threatens ancient aboriginal sacred art, Western Australia

The Woodside-led Burrup Hub is a gigantic gas project with a humongous climate wreaking tag. It also threatens to destroy the 50,000 year old rock art carrying aboriginal people's uninterrupted traditional culture in Murujuga.


In 1965, the first western settlement of Dampier was established in Murujuga, land stewarded by the Ngarluma aboriginal people after the Yaburara traditional owners were wiped out by the western colonisers [1], to serve as a port to export iron ore from mines in the Pilbara region. In 1984, the first production well at what is now known as Burrup Hub was opened as part of the North West Shelf gas project. In 1989, the first LNG cargo was sent from the Karratha LNG terminal, the second largest LNG export terminal in the world [2]. In 2005, further expansion projects started with the development of more offshore gas fields and the construction of Pluto LNG, a second liquefaction plant [3]. Now, the corporate conglomerate led by Woodside wants to ramp up gas extraction with the Scarborough and the Browse basin offshore gas projects, and potentially opening opportunities for an onshore fracking boom in Western Australia [4]. But aboriginal people and climate campaigners are defiantly resisting the projects.

See more
Basic Data
Name of conflict:Woodside's Burrup gas hub threatens ancient aboriginal sacred art, Western Australia
State or province:Pilbara, Western Australia
Location of conflict:Murujuga
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Oil and gas exploration and extraction
Ports and airport projects
Oil and gas refining
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific commodities:Natural Gas
Iron ore
Ammonium Nitrate
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The Burrup Hub includes several projects:

See more
Project area:1,600
Level of Investment for the conflictive project46,000,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:1,341 Dampier population
Start of the conflict:01/01/1984
Company names or state enterprises:Mitsubishi Corporation from Japan - It owns an 8.3% stake through its joint venture subsidiary Japan Australia LNG (MIMI) Pty. Ltd. with Mitsui
Mitsui & Co., Ltd from Japan - It owns an 8.3% stake through its joint venture subsidiary Japan Australia LNG (MIMI) Pty. Ltd. with Mitsubishi
Kansai Electric Power Co (KEPCO) from Japan - It owns a 5% stake in the Pluto LNG terminal and has long-term sales agreements
Tokyo Gas from Japan - It owns a 5% stake in the Pluto LNG terminal and has long-term sales agreements
Woodside Energy from Australia - Operates and owns a 33% stake in the Karratha Gas Plant LNG terminal and operates and owns a 90% stake of the Pluto LNG terminal.
British Petroleum (BP) from United Kingdom - Owns a 16.6% stake in the Karratha Gas Plant LNG terminal through its subsidiary BP Developments Australia Pty Ltd.
Chevron Polska Energy Resources Sp. z o.o. from United States of America - Owns a 16.6% stake in the Karratha Gas Plant LNG terminal through its subsidiary Chevron Australia Pty Ltd.
Royal Dutch Shell (Shell) from Netherlands - Owns a 16.6% stake in the Karratha Gas Plant LNG terminal through its subsidiary Shell Australia Pty Ltd.
Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) from United States of America - Owns a 49% stake in Pluto LNG train 2
Orica Australia (Orica) from Australia - Owns a 50% stake in the Yara Pilbara Ammonium Nitrate plant
Yara from Norway - It is the owner of the Yara Pilbara Fertiliser Plant and holds a 50% stake in the Yara Pilbara Ammonium Nitrate plant
Perdaman Industries (Chemicals & Fertilisers) from Australia - It is proposing the new urea plant
Rio Tinto (Rio Tinto ) from United Kingdom - Through its subsidiary Pilbara Iron, it owns and operates the iron ore export facilities in East Intercourse Island
Relevant government actors:- Western Australia (WA) Environmental Protection Authority (EPA)
- Federal Environment Minister
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:- Save our Songlines
- Say No to Scarborough Gas
- Conservation Council of Western Australia (CCWA)
- Australian Conservation Foundation
- Clean State
- Extinction Rebelion Western Australia
- Australian Workers’ Union
- Maritime Union of Australia
- Greenpeace
- Friends of Australian Rock Art (FARA)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Industrial workers
International ejos
Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Recreational users
Forms of mobilization:Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Boycotts of companies-products
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Global warming, Air pollution, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation
Potential: Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Oil spills
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsRespiratory and circulatory diseases linked to air pollution
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Other socio-economic impacts, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Potential: Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession
Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (undecided)
Project temporarily suspended
Proposal and development of alternatives:There are proposals to pursue an economic model based on respectful tourism of the rock art in Murujuga, which could be strengthened if UNESCO World Heritage status is finally given to the site.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The project started operating more than 37 years ago with the North West Shelf operations. It continues nowadays with several projects to expand operations offshore to Scarborough and Browse basin fields, and onshore opening oportunities for development of a fracking industry in Western Australia. Aboriginal organisations still have to mobilise to save the remaining rock art and heritage in Murujuga threatened by the expansion projects and associated chemical industries.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[6] Smith, B. W., Black, J. L., Hoerle, S., Ferland, M. A., Diffey, S. M., Neumann, J. T., & Geisler, T. (2022). The impact of industrial pollution on the rock art of Murujuga, Western Australia. Rock Art Research: The Journal of the Australian Rock Art Research Association (AURA), 39(1), 3-14.
[click to view]

[1] de Jong, E. and Morton, A. 11/05/2022. ‘Our ancestors are in the rocks’: Australian gas project threatens ancient carvings – and emissions blowout. The Guardian.
[click to view]

[2] North West Shelf Gas project website. About. Visited on 22/07/2022.
[click to view]

[3] Woodside webpage. Pluto LNG. Visited on 22/07/2022.
[click to view]

[4] Clean State and Conservation Council of Western Australia. Burrup Hub: Australia’s most

polluting fossil fuel project.
[click to view]

[5] Wahlquist, C. 27/08/2018. ‘The rocks remember’: the fight to protect Burrup peninsula's rock art. In The Guardian.
[click to view]

[7] Report chapter on Karratha local government website. Preservation and management of rock art.
[click to view]

[8] Kurmelovs, R. 06/07/2022. ‘Cultural genocide’: Australian state putting industry before heritage, Indigenous women tell UN. In The Guardian.
[click to view]

[9] Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation website. 26/11/2021. Facts about MAC and the Scarborough project (including Pluto Train 1 & 2).
[click to view]

[10] Save Our Songlines website. Visited on 22/07/2022
[click to view]

[11] Liveris, J. 29/10/2021. Fears pollution will destroy world's biggest collection of rock art 'within 100 years'. In Australia Broadcasting Corporation.
[click to view]

[12] IPCC. 2022. Assessment Report 6, Working Group III, Summary for Policymakers.
[click to view]

[13] Readfearn, G. 21/12/2020. WA court challenge launched against huge Burrup Hub gas project. In The Guardian.
[click to view]

[14] Morton, A. 22/06/2022. Conservationists in court bid to halt $16bn Scarborough gas project citing damage to barrier reef. In The Guardian.
[click to view]

[15] Woodside webpage. Scarborough and Pluto Train 2. Visited on 22/07/2022.
[click to view]

[16] Woodside webpage. North West Shelf. Visited on 22/07/2022
[click to view]

[17] Yara Pilbara website. About Yara Pilbara. Visited on 22/07/2022
[click to view]

[18] Environmental Protection Authority, Western Australia website. 24/01/2022. Perdaman Urea Project.
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Powerful video on the importance of Songlines for the local aboriginal culture from Save Our Songlines
[click to view]

Save the Burrup - Save our Songlines

@SaveOurSonglines · Causa
[click to view]

Other comments:"Indigenous women travel to UN to warn of 'cultural genocide' in Australia" . Yahoo News AU. MICHAEL DAHLSTROM
6 July 2022 (19).
Meta information
Contributor:EJAtlas team (M.L.)
Last update03/08/2022
Conflict ID:6078
Legal notice / Aviso legal
We use cookies for statistical purposes and to improve our services. By clicking "Accept cookies" you consent to place cookies when visiting the website. For more information, and to find out how to change the configuration of cookies, please read our cookie policy. Utilizamos cookies para realizar el análisis de la navegación de los usuarios y mejorar nuestros servicios. Al pulsar "Accept cookies" consiente dichas cookies. Puede obtener más información, o bien conocer cómo cambiar la configuración, pulsando en más información.