The following letter, written by Bruce Holland of The Norwood Resource, was published in the Border Watch today, 27 October:

Further to my letter to The Editor (Thursday 8th Oct), and in regard to numerous articles over the last 3 to 4 weeks published in The Border Watch in relation to unconventional gas and fracture stimulation (fraccing), I would like to add a few further comments.

The tenor of most of the articles over the last 3 to 4 weeks is to heighten anxiety and concern through the use of unsubstantiated statements, claims and myths seemingly aimed to cast doubt about the integrity of drilling for and the production of hydrocarbons, be it from conventional or unconventional gas sources and the use of hydraulic fracture stimulation (fraccing) to enhance production.

There is often much confusion in the public about CSG, fraccing and unconventional gas. The anti fossil fuel activists want all of these banned immediately, and indefinitely, despite gas and oil drilling and production having been safely undertaken onshore around the world for over a hundred years.

Without the use of the wide range of products derived from oil and gas source materials, the impact on our daily lives would be dramatic, removing indispensable items, including fuel, plastics, computers, mobile phones and even wind farms.

Fracture stimulation (fraccing) is a production technology employed by the industry for more than 65 years (40+ years in Australia), with over 2 million wells fracced around the world, without any serious environmental impact.

In South Australia and Queensland, fracture stimulation has been used in the Cooper Basin on wells drilled through the Great Artesian Basin (GAB), an essential aquifer for ground water for stock and domestic use, without any detrimental impact. There are cattle stations producing organically certified beef in the same area. Proof that agriculture and the oil and gas industry can happily coexist.

Earlier this year the UK passed legislation to permit fracture stimulation below 300 meters. In the southeast of South Australia, over 100 wells have been drilled and there has been gas production (and gas processing plants) operating for many years, without any adverse impact on agriculture, health, the environment and the ‘clean green’ image of the area.

Over the years there have been many, many inquiries and engineering studies into fracture stimulation and its impact on groundwater, health, and the environment. The outcome of the rigorous inquiries into fracture stimulation by the UK Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering is best summed up by the UK’s Chief Scientific Advisor, Professor Sir Mark Walport, who stated: “What the science and the engineering tells you is that this is just a drilling technology and no drilling technology is completely risk free.. But if it is engineered well, if it is done well, if it is governed well, then, it is as safe as any other form of drilling, recognising that there is no ‘free lunch’, there is nothing that is completely risk free”

Further, the USA EPA recently released a draft report, which after four years study of many thousands of wells which have been fracture stimulated stated they “did not find any evidence… that led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States”.

Contrary to the views expressed by some of the anti fossil fuel voices, of particular concern is the regulatory regime which needs to be robust and diligent. We are indeed fortunate in SA, since the SA Regulator has been independently assessed as being in the top three regulatory regimes in the world for shale and tight gas, in which fracture stimulation is frequently required.

I hope this assists your readers to understand that fracture stimulation is not a new technology, nor has it caused widespread mayhem that some of the anti fossil fuel activists claim, rather it is a well understood production technique which has led to many benefits with many attributing fraccing to be one of the major reasons the USA has significantly reduced its greenhouse gas emissions since 2005, by replacing coal with gas for electricity generation.

For further information, I recommend readers review “The Facts” published by the SA Govt on their website.

Bruce Holland

Secretary

The Norwood Resource

Furthermore, it was pleasing to receive the following message from SACOME (South Australian Chamber Of Mines and Energy) on our Facebook page:

Excellent letter in the Border Watch today by your Bruce Holland. Is a pity the science is not enough but millions must be spent on studies around the world that repeatedly find the same outcomes. Anti fossil fuel activists should perhaps live their lifestyles by the ideals they promote, but more importantly, be held accountable for the accuracy of information they spread in the public arena. Misinformation and scaremongering can be damaging – more than most people realise in an economy that depends on its natural resources for the services we take for granted – including health and education.

TNR agrees, it is very sad and damaging for Australia when misinformation goes unchallenged enabling it to prevail in the form of myths and pseudoscience. Public opinion and government decisions should not be based on such misinformation.

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