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NT Opens the Way to Fracking

Posted: 3/03/2015 5:00:00 AM by Mining Oil and Gas Jobs
Filed under: Oil-and-gas, Mining

The Northern Territory Government has opened the way to allow hydraulic fracturing — a crucial part of an emerging shale, coal seam and tight gas mining.

Acting on recent debate on the industry, the NT Government commissioned an independent expert inquiry headed by Mr Allan Hawke to determine whether the industry had a basis for commercial operation. A report has now been handed down.

The economic value of the industry in NT could be as high as $360m according to industry expert Laura Gibson. She added that her estimate is based on the exploration permits already approved. The resultant production can be sufficient to warrant the construction of a pipeline to connect the eastern seaboard gas supply lines.

The Federal Australian Government has indicated that it broadly supports such an initiative as the NT gas supply will assist in keeping Eastern States gas prices under control.

The Northern Territory Mines and Energy Minister Dave Tollner said “The government broadly accepts the report’s six recommendations. The key finding is that fracking can take place safely in the Northern Territory, provided the appropriate regulatory and monitoring regime is in place to allay community concern,”

The report listed six recommendations as follows
  1. Consistent with other Australian and international reviews, the environmental risks associated with hydraulic fracturing can be managed effectively subject to the creation of a robust regulatory regime.
  1. The substantive weight of agreed expert opinion leads the Inquiry to find that there is no justification whatsoever for the imposition of a moratorium of hydraulic fracturing in the Northern Territory.
  1. The NT Government form a Cabinet Sub-Committee, chaired by the Deputy Chief Minister and comprising the Ministers whose portfolios cover Lands, Planning and the Environment; Land Resource Management; Mines and Energy; and Primary Industry and Fisheries to oversee the work required for the Northern Territory to set the standard for a best practice regulatory regime.
  1. The Northern Territory Environmental Assessment Act be restructured in the light of this Report and the proposed bilateral agreements with the Commonwealth on environmental assessments and approvals.
  1. The NT Government consider aligning the petroleum and mineral royalty frameworks.
  1. The NT Government propose through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Standing Council on Energy and Resources that the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) host a workshop of international academies to consider their collective findings, learn from each other and identify the findings shared by all of the academies.
Mr Steve Gerhardi, director of the APPEA saw the report as a major step forward.
“Over the past 40 years, more than 30 wells in the NT and over 1000 wells in northern South Australia have been hydraulically fractured without any recorded cases of aquifer contamination,” he said.

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