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Woodside secures land for Australia gas hub

SYDNEY : Energy giant Woodside signed off on a deal with traditional Aboriginal landowners Thursday allowing the develop

woodsideSYDNEY: Energy giant Woodside signed off on a deal with traditional Aboriginal landowners Thursday allowing the development of a massive Aus$30 billion (US$32 billion) gas export project in Western Australia.

The agreement, between the Australian company and the Goolarabooloo Jabirr Jabirr Aboriginal people, secures the land needed to build the Browse Basin gas export project north of Broome in the Kimberley region.

Under the agreement, which resolves two years of negotiations, more than $1.0 billion will flow to indigenous communities in the area over 30 years in the form of housing, education and funds to address social issues.

It "also recognises the importance of the area to the Goolarabooloo Jabirr Jabirr native title claimants and underscores Woodside's commitment to an environmentally, socially and culturally responsible development," Woodside said.

Western Australia Premier Colin Barnett called it the most significant act of self-determination by an Aboriginal group in Australian history.

"Establishing the LNG precinct will boost economic growth in Western Australia and significantly improve the lives of Aboriginal people in the Kimberley," he told reporters.

"For the first time in a native title agreement, benefits will not only go to the affected native title group, but also be directed to indigenous people of the Dampier Peninsula and the wider Kimberley region."

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2011