Woodside halts undersea blasting amid legal challenge

Rebecca Le May/AAP PHOTOS

Woodside Energy has agreed to suspend undersea blasting off the West Australian coast ahead of an urgent court hearing to halt it while a legal challenge is under way.

Mardudhunera woman Raelene Cooper filed an injunction asking the Federal Court to put an immediate stop to the oil and gas producer's Scarborough Gas Project seismic blasting plans after the company said on Tuesday the work would start within 48 hours.

Woodside lawyer Steven Penglis on Friday told Justice Craig Colvin that the company had since given a written undertaking not to do any seismic work until the injunction hearing.

That is scheduled for Thursday and also involves industry regulator that approved the blasting, the National Offshore Petroleum Safety and Environmental Management Authority.

Ms Cooper filed a legal challenge in August amid concerns about the approval process, saying it was unlawful and she had not been properly consulted, which is required by law.

She is deeply concerned about the seismic activity's impact on songlines and the culturally significant animals connected to them, such as whales.

"The risks and the impacts of such destructive activities and the consequences of these actions will be life-threatening for these species," she said on Wednesday.

The massive Scarborough field is located in the Carnarvon Basin, about 375km off WA's northwest coast.

The $16.5 billion gas project will be connected to new offshore facilities by a 430km pipeline to the onshore Pluto liquid natural gas facility, near Karratha.

The development phase will include the installation of a floating production unit with eight wells drilled initially and thirteen wells drilled over the life of the gas field.

Woodside expects to process about five to eight million tonnes of gas per year, which Ms Cooper's lawyers, The Environmental Defenders Office, said would result in the release of an estimated 878.02 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over the project's lifetime.

Lawyer Clare Lakewood said Woodside had planned to start seismic blasting while the issue of whether their approval was valid remained unresolved.

"When NOPSEMA allowed this blasting, it was on the condition that our client should be properly consulted before it went ahead," she said.

"Our client argues that the consultation requirements need to be met before NOPSEMA can give approval, not afterward, and in any case, the consultation has not taken place."

Woodside has been contacted for comment.