After 15 months, 151 public hearings, 31 community updates and 1,257 submissions, Justice Rachel Pepper has presented the independent Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing of Onshore Unconventional Reservoirs to the Northern Territory Government. The inquiry makes 135 recommendations which mitigate the risks associated with onshore shale gas development to acceptable levels, and in some cases, eliminate the risks completely. The report clearly states that it is necessary for all the recommendations to be actioned in order for the risks to be reduced to acceptable levels.
The final report builds on the recommendations made in the Draft Final Report by including:
- an implementation Chapter, which states clearly that all of the recommendations in the Final Report must be implemented;
- greater clarity on the timing of the implementation of the recommendations; and
- the inclusion of a requirement that there be no net increase in greenhouse gas emissions in Australia as a consequence of the development of any onshore shale gas industry in the Northern Territory.
The findings of the Inquiry have triggered the expected (opposing) responses from gas producers and environmentalists. The NT Government must now make their decision on whether or not the moratorium on fracking will be lifted. The Federal Government last year made their intentions clear, consistently pressuring the NT Government to lift the moratorium. The NT Government has indicated that the decision to lift the moratorium would be based on the findings of this inquiry however have said that they will not rush their decision. No indication has been given as to when a decision would be made.
It is the general consensus that a portion of the gas extracted from the Beetaloo Basin will be transported to the east coast through the under construction Northern Gas Pipeline. This is a key driver behind the Federal Government’s push to lift the moratorium as reducing gas prices has been high on the agenda. The impact that NT gas will have on the southern gas markets is likely to be minimal as transport costs remain high due to limited available capacity in key transmission pipelines.
If you would like to know more, please contact Edge on (07) 3905 9220 or 1800 334 336.