TNR reports on SA Roundtable for Oil & Gas Projects in SA

The facts

The Facts (about natural gas and fracture stimulation in South Australia)

In keeping with their objective to get the facts into the public arena, a meeting convened by the South Australian Department of State Development (DSD) held on Friday, 25th September was very opportune, as some of the guest speakers at the all day event came from USA, UK, Canada, and South Africa. These visitors were in Australia for a two day meeting of the Australian Academy of Technology, Science and Engineering (ATSE) on Unconventional Gas covering many issues, such as groundwater, climate, economics, community etc.

The Roundtable has been a great DSD initiative to bring all interested parties together (about 200 on this occasion, including some that oppose unconventional gas and hydraulic fracture stimulation <fraccing>) in one forum to hear from leaders in specific research and operational fields such as fraccing, social issues concerning community engagement, groundwater resources etc.

Australian speakers were also well represented with presentations from GeoScience Australia, APPEA and CSIRO, all addressing hot issues such as the impact of oil & gas activity moving closer to townships and the impact it has on local towns and communities. Presenters also referred to case studies covering recent CSG activity on some regional townships in Qld.

Barry Goldstein, Executive Director Energy Resources Division, DSD chaired the event, and gave a summary of the status of 125 recommendations contained in the Dec 2012 Roadmap for Unconventional Gas Projects in SA.

There are too many notable achievements and examples of progress to summarise in this short summary, however suffice to say great progress has been made on many of the recommendations, implemented by Govt and Industry.

One recommendation to bolster understanding (with reliable information) regarding the hazards and risk management of unconventional oil & gas activities featured the Norwood Resource (TNR), where the DSD will support TNR to balance the public discourse on the issue. The Govt already supports the Conservation Council of SA (CCSA) through DEWNR.

Some of the topics/issues discussed related to the risks and assessment of various parts of the fraccing process, such as a 1 in 10 million chance of a leak developing from a fracture stimulation of a deep target to a shallow aquifer – none has actually occurred as yet.

Mark Zoback, from Stanford University reported there has been no substantiated evidence of any groundwater contamination after over 2 million fracture stimulations worldwide.

All speakers touched on the widespread concerns regarding unconventional gas and fraccing due to misinformation despite the enormous amount of credible reputable studies.

Damian Barrett (CSIRO) advised of further funding for research into the social and environmental issues, with around 20 projects already underway, looking at such issues as the uncertainty of communities, what is important to communities and the risk (or likelihood) of something adverse occurring.

Damian referred to ongoing studies of the benefits to local communities, such as employment in non FIFO instances, where the average family income increased by 30% (evidence from CSG regions) and a 30% increase in non mining employment growth.

Studies are being undertaken on such topics as Community Wellbeing and Resilience, which covers issues such as trust, employment and business, decision making and community voice etc.

Further, Ric Wilkinson of APPEA made some notable points during his presentation, such as the fact that SA actually has been a net importer of gas for the last 3.5 years, the recent decline in gas demand on the eastern seaboard, not to mention the current inquiry by ACCC into gas supply and demand and gas contracts for gas supply in the eastern states.

One example of the actual benefits to local communities was Chinchilla, where prior to CSG activities commencing, there was an unemployment rate of around 24%, but this had markedly declined to a current rate of 8.3%. A prime example of a tangible benefit to a community.

A lasting note was the evidence (or lack of evidence) that after 2 to 2.5 million fracc’s worldwide there is zero contamination of groundwater from the fraccing process.

It is a testament to DSD SA that one of the international visitors, Elizabeth Eadie from the US National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (at times advisors to the US administration on unconventional oil & gas and fraccing issues) said that she intends to replicate the Roundtable concept in the US, although starting with a small number of representatives from various interest groups.

Perhaps this is why the SA Regulator has been independently assessed as being in the top three Regulators worldwide for shale and tight gas, where fraccing is frequently required.

Bruce Holland

Secretary

The Norwood Resource

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Comments

  1. Regarding a comment made by Mr Bruce Holland to the Border Watch, letter to the Editor 03/02/2016. Given that over 100 wells have been previously drilled in the Sth East, all without any serious impact upon the environment. So would this mean that there has been some impact on the environment?

  2. Bruce Holland says:

    Shane, thanks for your comment. By saying “without any serious impact” we recognise that all human activity has some impact on the environment. TNR would suggest that the drilling of 100 wells in the SE of South Australia has had less impact on the environment than human occupation of the area (involving building roads, houses, etc) and significantly less impact than the agricultural and forestry industries (involving land clearing, use of chemicals, etc).

    • So we should learn from our mistake’s right? should we not try and ease the pressure on the environment? not create more! I’m a little concerned about the use of chemicals in fracture stimulation . I do not understand how pumping toxic chemicals deep into the ground can be safe? This is like out of sight out of mind attitude! If every car owner went around dumping or burying their car oil this would be totally irresponsible! how is pumping toxic chemicals into the ground any different?

      • johnnwdhughes says:

        Shane, perhaps you should get your facts straight before making such wild claims? Could you advise how the chemicals used in fracture stimulation are any different from most household chemicals used (and flushed into the wastewater system) on a daily basis? Further, your inference that “dumping or burying car oil” does not occur is somewhat sad given it is estimated that 37-50% of hydrocarbons in the ocean come from urban/industrial runoff: http://oils.gpa.unep.org/facts/sources.htm I totally agree with easing pressure on the environment but would suggest the pressure should be eased on the basis of balanced consideration of the facts and science.

  3. Bruce Holland says:

    Agree that intelligent human beings and society should learn from mistakes but that any assessment of “mistakes” should be based on the facts and science. You are ignoring the facts in your claims about toxic chemicals being pumped into and left in the ground. See: https://thenorwoodresource.org.au/2015/06/07/tnr-promotes-the-facts-about-fracking/ and, more specifically, http://www.statedevelopment.sa.gov.au/resources/the-facts/fracture-stimulation-in-south-australia especially the section entitled “What is in fracture fluids?”

  4. Fear over facts.

    Shane, I’m sure you are aware, 99% of any fracture stimulation fluid is water and sand. The 1% of additives include acetic acid (vinegar), caustic soda (found in hair remover), calcium chloride (found in sports drinks) and guar (found in ice cream). The list of approved chemicals that can be utilised in the fracture stimulation of oil and gas production wells in Australia – can easily found on the internet – or from your state department of mines and energy. Do some research and then come back with the facts!

    “Toxic chemicals” is a term that is often bandied around by many activists to instil fear into the minds of the general public and help seek funds for their ‘campaigns’. Some have gone as far as to claim that silicon dioxide and calcium carbonate (sand) are known carcinogens. Why aren’t they calling for our beaches to be closed?

    It’s time that activists be held accountable for the claims they make – and governed by the same regulations and controls that companies are.

    • Frack fluids do not contain toxic materials– it consists of about 99% di-hydrogen monoxide (i.e. water) with minor additives found in households. What mistakes are you refering to anyway, Shane? is agriculture, forestry (chopping down of trees), roads, clearing land for housing etc mistakes? these all affect the environment and leave footprints.
      Please think carefully about these matters and look at the facts and science

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