Browse gas rights threat is wrong: WA oppn

Premier Colin Barnett's threat to take away the Browse joint venture's gas rights if it doesn't develop the project at James Price Point is outrageous, the West Australian opposition says.

The WA premier on Tuesday welcomed Chevron's departure from the Woodside-led project under an asset-swap deal with Royal Dutch Shell.

He told ABC radio it was "all part of the shuffling and the rearranging of ownership" and "good news for the development".

Mr Barnett also said joint venture partners had told him they wanted to retain an option to pipe gas from the Browse Basin off the Kimberley coast to Woodside's existing North West Shelf facilities in the Pilbara.

While he could not force the joint venture to take that option, instead of developing a multi-user gas hub north of Broome, he warned "they may lose the gas rights".

Opposition Leader Mark McGowan labelled the comments as "interventionism".

"Let the companies make a commercial decision," he told reporters.

"Threatening companies that employ tens of thousands of West Australians is the wrong way to go."

Mr McGowan also took a swipe at the government's bid to compulsorily acquire unallocated Crown land at James Price Point for the hub.

He had flagged the possibility in 2008 when potential sites were being short-listed in response to a dispute between rival native title claimants.

The government was earlier this year forced to resubmit documentation for the compulsory acquisition after the paperwork was deemed invalid.

Mr McGowan said the process had been disastrously managed.

"And what you see is a range of companies expressing no confidence in Mr Barnett's handling of this matter," he said.

"He has caused huge disharmony in Broome, he has caused massive disharmony in the indigenous community of the Kimberley."

Mr McGowan said the joint venture's delays in reaching a final decision to proceed with the project pointed to a "failed process", while Mr Barnett flagged the possibility of further hold-ups in an uncertain broader market.

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