By understanding the existing environment, Shell can assess how environmental aspects (or receptors) may be impacted by both planned and unplanned activities and develop effective management controls and mitigations.
Shell is continuing its research into the physical, biological and social environment surrounding the Prelude FLNG Facility of both the operational area (the area containing the facility and associated infrastructure) and the widest area that could be impacted in a worst-case spill scenario (known as the zone of potential influence).
The facility is located around 200km from the coast of the Kimberley region, in north-west Western Australia, in water 200m-300m deep. There are no key ecological features in the facility’s operational area.
Coral reefs and islands in the wider area are considered key ecological features. The closest of these is roughly 40km south-east of the facility. Normal operations and planned activities are not expected to affect these features. Any impacts from unplanned activities are addressed in the relevant sections of the Environment Plan and in the Unplanned Events section of this website.
Timor Island and the Southern Indonesian Archipelago are located north of Prelude, the North West Australian coast is located south of Prelude. These coastal areas, on the outer edge of the zone of potential influence, contain environmental characteristics typical of coastal tropical locations.
Shell has referred to several independent resources when assessing the local species within and around the operational area and wider zone of potential influence. The Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) protected matters database has been the primary source of this information.
This research found a number of threatened and migratory species within the operational area and zone of potential influence including several species of whale, turtle and birds.
The Department of the Environment and Energy and international experts identify special areas which are important for the survival of threatened species (such as breeding areas or nesting areas). These areas are referred to as biologically important areas.
According to the Conservation Values Atlas there are no biologically important areas or critical habitats within the operational area. However, there are some in the wider zone of potential influence.
Species and habitat found within the zone of influence
|Species potentially occurring within operational area||Species potentially occurring within zone of potential influence|
|Critically endangered species||2||6|
|BIA or critical habitat ||Distance from the facility (km)|
|The inter-nesting and foraging habitats for green turtles ||23|
|Whale shark foraging habitat ||33|
|Breeding habitats for the red-footed booby, greater and lesser frigatebirds, the wedge tailed shearwater and white-tailed tropic bird ||60|
|Closest known migratory route for blue and pygmy blue whales ||80|
All other biologically important areas are more than 100km from the operational area.
Social and cultural
With the facility located some 200km from the Australian coast, there is very limited interaction with other users. Most contact is primarily with other marine users (mainly vessels, oil and gas facilities and commercial fishing).
Although there is a high volume of shipping activity in the vicinity of the Operational Area, almost all vessels are servicing either Prelude itself or INPEX’s Ichthys facility.
There are some instances of commercial fishing areas overlapping the operational area, but most commercial, recreational and indigenous fishing areas occur in shallow coastal waters out to about 150m water depth.
There are no World Heritage properties, National Heritage properties, Ramsar wetlands or sites of Indigenous or European cultural significance in, or adjacent to, the operational area.
The closest culturally significant area is along the Kimberley coastline, 162km away from the operational area and within the outer edges of the zone of potential influence.
There is a historic shipwreck 18km from the facility, but no known historical shipwrecks are located within the operational area.