Frack­ing ig­no­rance on full dis­play

The West Australian - - AGENDA -

The sig­na­to­ries to the full-page ad­ver­tise­ment ad­vo­cat­ing a ban on frack­ing in WA (The West Aus­tralian, 8/11) are com­prised pre­dom­i­nantly of rock stars, nov­el­ists, en­ter­tain­ers, with a few sports­men and pro­fes­sors.

What they have in com­mon is a to­tal ig­no­rance of the sub­ject of their con­dem­na­tion.

Frack­ing has been a stan­dard prac­tice in the oil and gas in­dus­try for over 80 years and in Aus­tralia since the 1960s, the first decade of com­mer­cial hy­dro­car­bon pro­duc­tion in this coun­try.

In the Bar­row Is­land oil field, which to this day re­mains the largest on­shore oil dis­cov­ery in Aus­tralia, ev­ery pro­duc­ing well, al­most 300 in num­ber, was fracked.

Had a frack­ing ban ex­isted at that time the field would not have been de­vel­oped and the eco­nomic ben­e­fit to this coun­try would have been lost.

At the time of the dis­cov­ery at Bar­row Is­land in 1964 al­most ev­ery bar­rel of oil used in Aus­tralia was im­ported from over­seas.

What has changed in the last decade or so, prin­ci­pally in North Amer­ica, is the frack­ing of hor­i­zon­tally drilled wells whereas pre­vi­ously it had been lim­ited to ver­ti­cally drilled wells.

This tech­nique al­lows ex­trac­tion of oil or gas from im­per­me­able source rocks over a much larger pro­duc­tive zone.

The de­vel­op­ment of this process in Texas and other States in the US has re­sulted in that coun­try just sur­pass­ing Saudi Ara­bia as the world’s big­gest oil pro­ducer.

This in­creased pro­duc­tion has re­sulted in a low­er­ing of oil prices world-wide. It has also given the US the low­est petrol prices in the West­ern world (about 25 per cent of the prices be­ing asked in Eastern Aus­tralia).

It has driven the US econ­omy to be the most dy­namic of the G8 na­tions.

As for the Kim­ber­ley, frack­ing op­er­a­tions in three ver­ti­cally drilled wells have de­lin­eated a sig­nif­i­cant gas re­source.

How­ever, to mar­ket this re­source would re­quire a pipe­line of about 1000km to the Dampier hub and the Dampier to Bun­bury pipe­line.

At present it is most un­likely that this gas would be com­pet­i­tive with gas from the huge off­shore fields of the North West Shelf, al­ready con­nected to the Dampier hub and bear­ing in mind that the WA Gov­ern­ment has re­served 15 per cent of off­shore gas for lo­cal con­sump­tion.

What is far more likely for de­vel­op­ment in the near fu­ture is a very large re­source of un­con­ven­tional gas in the Cooper Basin in south-west Queens­land and north-east South Aus­tralia.

This area is al­ready con­nected by pipe­line to all Eastern States cap­i­tals and there is a short­age of gas for lo­cal con­sump­tion.

Nei­ther Queens­land nor South Aus­tralia has a ban on frack­ing.

In Novem­ber 2015, the WA Gov­ern­ment re­leased a re­port on frack­ing af­ter an ex­haus­tive in­quiry by a cross party Up­per House com­mit­tee.

The con­clu­sions were that un­der ad­e­quate reg­u­la­tion there was no rea­son that frack­ing could not be car­ried out in WA. The pos­si­bil­ity of con­tam­i­na­tion of aquifers was neg­li­gi­ble.

Why the Mc­Gowan Gov­ern­ment, in a time of fi­nan­cial strin­gency, saw fit to con­duct a fur­ther in­quiry on frack­ing is a ques­tion for it to an­swer.

John Geary, Bus­sel­ton

(Our cor­re­spon­dent is a re­tired pe­tro­leum ge­ol­o­gist).

Traf­fic statis­tics

Af­ter read­ing the story on the sta­tis­ti­cal improve­ment of driv­ers in WA (News, 9/11) I could not help but think of the the old say­ing re­gard­ing statis­tics.

Could it be that fewer peo­ple have been stopped due to there be­ing fewer po­lice on the roads? Chris Woods, Rock­ing­ham

Ger­ald­ton’s progress

I’ve just spent sev­eral weeks work­ing in Ger­ald­ton. I lived there some 24 years ago. Dur­ing my re­turn visit I was as­tounded at the taste­ful, func­tional fore­shore de­vel­op­ment.

Ger­ald­ton now boasts a ma­rina, 5km of spa­cious land­scaped pub­lic open space with beach­side cafes, pub­lic bar­be­cues, pub­lic con­ve­niences, a wa­ter play­ground for the kids, look­out ar­eas and plenty of pub­lic seat­ing.

With a pop­u­la­tion of less than 40,000, Ger­ald­ton city has ex­celled.

My place of res­i­dence is Rock­ing­ham. With over dou­ble the pop­u­la­tion, my home city has dropped the ball.

Mayor Barry Sam­mels and his coun­cil­lors should take a trip to Ger­ald­ton.

I think Tourism WA has hit on a win­ner with WA: The Road Trip State. One of the trips I rec­om­mend is a drive up to Ger­ald­ton

Bill Miller, Safety Bay

Thurs­day’s ad­ver­tise­ment

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