THE LAST of three native title groups in Western Australia’s Kimberley region have granted their approval to Buru Energy for work on its Ungani oilfield – allowing the company to secure a production licence.

The Ungani field was the site of a conventional oil discovery in 2011 – which the company says was the first oil discovery onshore Western Australia in the past 10 years.

Buru and its joint venture partner, Mitsubishi Corporation, were required to secure native title agreements with three aboriginal groups – the Yawuru, Nyikina Mangala and Karajarri people – before the production licence could be granted.

The last of these approvals came on 1 April from the Yawuru Native Title Holders Aboriginal Corporation.

A statement from the Aboriginal Corporation said that the agreement had strong mechanisms for environmental and cultural heritage protection and a compensation package to benefit the Yawuru community.

“With the Ungani oilfield and facility located outside of the Yawuru native title area, the main impact of the project on Yawuru land will be the transport of oil along an access road or possible underground pipeline,” the Yawuru people said.

“Importantly, Yawuru does not consent to any fracking or extinguishment of native title under the agreement.”

Buru Energy executive chairman Eric Streitberg thanked the group for its support, hailing it as an historic event for the Kimberley.

“To have three traditional owner groups support our development of Ungani after such an extensive and exhaustive review and negotiation process is a transformational event,” he said.

“Buru now looks forward to bringing Ungani into commercial production and delivering on its strategy for the benefit of all shareholders.”

The company has since completed its application for the Ungani production licence from the Department of Mines and Petroleum in Western Australia, which it said it was expecting to receive in the coming months.

The joint venture is currently carrying out field facility upgrades necessary for the start of commercial production, once the licence and consent to operate are granted by the department, Buru said.