Monday, April 29, 2013

Hey Campaigners!

Its time to party:  Thursday May 9th from 6.30pm at the Divers Tavern.
Dance the night away to say thanks to yourself and everyone else involved in getting the Campaign to where it is today. 

Entry $20 if you have a job, $10 if you don't.  Proceeds will help pay 
outstanding legal fees associated with the court cases.
There's several great bands including Naomi Pigram - more details next week.

So - your tasks for this week are to:
  •  print out the poster and stick it on a notice board in your work place or favourite shop
  • Tell our friends
  • Plan to be there!


  1. Australia's boom is anything but for its Aboriginal people

    The story of the first Australians is still poverty and humiliation, while their land yields the world's biggest resources boom

    John Pilger

    Eleven miles by ferry from Perth is Western Australia's "premier tourist destination". This is Rottnest Island, whose scabrous wild beauty and isolation evoked, for me, Robben Island in South Africa. Empires are never short of devil's islands; what makes Rottnest different – indeed, what makes Australia different – is silence and denial on an epic scale.

    "Five awesome reasons to visit!" the brochure says. These range from "family fun" to "historical Rottnest". The island is described as "a guiding light, a defender of the peace". In eight pages of prescribed family fun, there is just one word of truth – prison.

    More than any other colonial society, Australia consigns its dirtiest secrets, past and present, to wilful ignorance or indifference. When I was at school in Sydney, standard texts all but dismissed the most enduring human entity on earth, the indigenous first Australians. "It was quite useless to treat them fairly," the historian Stephen Roberts wrote, "since they were completely amoral and incapable of sincere and prolonged gratitude." His acclaimed colleague Russel Ward was succinct: "We are civilised today and they are not."

    That Australia has since changed is not disputed. To measure this change, a visit to Western Australia is essential. The vast state – our richest – is home to the world's biggest resources boom: iron ore, gold, nickel, oil, petroleum, gas. Profits are in the multiple billions. When the former Labor prime minister Kevin Rudd tried to impose a modest tax, he was overthrown by his own party following a A$22m (£14.6m) propaganda campaign by the mining companies, whose mates in the media uphold the world's first Murdocracy. "Assisted by Rio Tinto" reads the last line of an unctuous newspaper article on the boom's benefits to black Australians.

    At airports passengers are greeted by banners with pictures of smiling Aboriginal faces in hard hats, promoting the plunderers of their land. "This is our story," says the slogan. It isn't.

    Barely a fraction of mining, oil and gas revenue has benefited Aboriginal communities, whose poverty is an enduring shock. In Roebourne, in the mineral-rich Pilbara, 80% of the children suffer from an ear infection called otitis media, which can cause partial deafness. Or they go blind from preventable trachoma. Or they die from Dickensian infections. That is their story.

  2. Australia's boom is anything but for its Aboriginal people

    The story of the first Australians is still poverty and humiliation, while their land yields the world's biggest resources boom

    John Pilger


    The Nyoongar people have lived around what is now Perth for many thousands of years. Incredibly, they survive. Noel Nannup, a Nyoongar elder, and Marianne McKay, a Nyoongar activist, accompanied me to Rottnest. Nannup's protective presence was important to McKay. Unlike the jolly tourists heading for "Rotto", they spent days "preparing for the pain". "All our families remember what was done," said Noel Nannup.

    What was done was the starving, torture, humiliation and murder of the first Australians. Wrenched from their communities in an act of genocide that divided and emasculated the indigenous nations, shackled men and boys as young as eight endured the perilous nine-hour journey in an open longboat. Terrified prisoners were jammed into a windowless "holding cell", like an oversized kennel. Today, a historical plaque refers to it as "the Boathouse". The suppression is breathtaking.

    In the prison known as the Quod as many as 167 Aboriginal prisoners were locked in 28 tiny cells. This lasted well into the 20th century. The prison is now called Rottnest Lodge. It has a spa, and there are double bunks for children: family fun. I booked a room. Noel Nannup stood in the centre of the room and described its echoes of terrible suffering. The window looked out on to where a gallows had stood, where tourists now sunbathed. None had a clue.

    A "country club" overlooks a mass grave. One psychopath who ran the Quod was Henry Vincent. He liked to whip prisoners and murdered two of them, an inquiry was told. Today, Vincent is venerated as a "pioneer", and tourists are encouraged to follow the "Vincent Way heritage trail". In the Governor's Bar, the annual Henry Vincent golf trophy is displayed. No one there had a clue.

    Rotto is not the past. On 28 March Richard Harding, formerly inspector of custodial services, declared Western Australia a "state of imprisonment". During the boom Aboriginal incarceration has more than doubled. Interned in rat-infested cells, almost 60% of the state's young prisoners are Aboriginal – out of 2.5% of the population. They include children. A former prisons minister, Margaret Quirk, told me the state was now "racking and stacking" black Australians. Their rate of incarceration is five times that of black people in apartheid South Africa.

    Black Australians are stereotyped as violent, yet the violence routinely meted out to them by authority is of little interest. An elder known as Mr Ward was arrested for driving under the influence on a bush road. In searing heat, he was driven more than 300 miles in the iron pod of a prison van run by the British security company GSL. Inside, the temperature reached 50C. Mr Ward cooked to death, his stomach burned raw where he had collapsed on the van's scorching floor. The coroner called it a "disgrace", but no one was prosecuted. No one ever is.

    Eco-tourism is also booming. The Kimberley region is popular with Europeans. Last year, 40 Aboriginal youngsters killed themselves there, a 100-fold increase. When I first reported on indigenous Australia a generation ago, black suicide was rare. Today, the despair is so profound that the second cause of Aboriginal death is suicide. It is booming.

  3. Fracking Debris Considered Too Radioactive Even For Waste Site

    A truck carrying drill cuttings from a fracking site set off a radiation alarm at a landfill in Pennsylvania. Emitting gamma radiation 10 times higher than the permitted level, the waste was rejected by the landfill.

    After the alarm went off, the MAX Environmental Technologies truck was immediately quarantined and sent back to the Marcellus Shale fracking site it had come from in Greene County, Va. The 159-acre Pennsylvania landfill site accepts residual and hazardous waste, but the cuttings were too radioactive for the site to safely dispose.

    Exposure to the materials taken from the fracking site can have serious health consequences, including the risk of developing cancer. The high level of radiation emitted by the materials serves as alarming news for environmentalists and residents located near hydraulic fracturing sites across the US.

    "Long-term exposure to radium increases the risk of developing several diseases," the EPA writes. "Inhaled or ingested radium increases the risk of developing such diseases as lymphoma, bone cancer and diseases that affect the formation of blood, such as leukemia and aplastic anemia... External exposure to radium's gamma radiation increases the risk of cancer to varying degrees in all tissues and organs."


    Carbon bubble makes Australia's coal industry ripe 'for financial implosion'

    Much of the nation's coal reserves will be worthless if world's governments fulfil pledge to cap emissions, warns report

    Australia's huge coal industry is a speculative bubble ripe for financial implosion if the world's governments fulfil their agreement to act on climate change, according to a new report. The warning that much of the nation's coal reserves will become worthless as the world hits carbon emission limits comes after banking giant Citi also warned Australian investors that fossil fuel companies could do little to avoid the future loss of value.

    Australia is already the globe's biggest coal exporter and "mega-mine" plans in Queensland for more extraction are identified as the world's second biggest "carbon bomb" threatening runaway global warming.

    "Investments in Australian coal rest on a speculative bubble of climate denial, indifference or dreaming," said John Connor, one of the new report's authors and CEO of The Climate Institute, an independent research organisation based in Sydney. "Investors, governments and even some coal companies say they take climate change seriously, but this report shows they do not or are taking risky gambles."


    The dirty fossil fuel secret behind Burma's democratic fairytale

    South-east Asian country's untapped natural wealth is being opened up, regardless of the environmental and human costs

    New evidence has emerged that the systematic violence against ethnic Rohingya in Burma - "described as genocidal by some experts" - is being actively supported by state agencies. But the violence's links to the country's ambitions to rapidly expand fossil fuel production, at massive cost to local populations and to the environment, have been largely overlooked.

    Over 125,000 ethnic Rohingya have been forcibly displaced since waves of violence swept across Burma's Arakan state last year, continuing until now, according to the New York-based Human Rights Watch's (HRW) latest sobering report. The "ethnic cleansing" campaign against Arakan's Muslim minority, although instigated largely by Buddhist monks rallying local mobs, has been the product of "extensive state involvement and planning", according to HRW's UK director David Mepham.

    The group found:

    "All of the state security forces [in Arakan] are implicated in failing to prevent atrocities or directly participating in them, including local police, Lon Thein riot police, the inter-agency border control force called Nasaka, and the army and navy."


  4. The Real Reason to Worry About China

    .....Economists have been warning for years that China must decrease its dependence on investment for growth and “rebalance” to allow consumption to play a bigger role. Government officials point out signs of progress — first-quarter GDP was driven upward more by consumption than investment, for instance. But progress is, at best, at a crawl. Private consumption relative to GDP in China is still the lowest among major economies. The government has simply balked at the reforms necessary to change that. Feeble health care and pension systems force households to save; then controls on interest rates keep returns on bank deposits meager, punishing them for saving. If anything, much government policy has reinforced China’s old growth model — including the heralded state-heavy stimulus program launched after the 2008 financial crisis. Businessmen in China speak of a “lost decade” of stalled reform.

    Even if China reforms more quickly, the economy is likely to slow as it transitions to more consumption-heavy growth. But if China drags its feet on reform, growth will likely be slower anyway, as its old model sputters and creaks. That means that under just about every scenario, the world can’t count on a supercharged China to hold up global growth while the U.S. and Europe remain mired in debt and joblessness. But a slower China may actually be a good thing. A reformed, rebalanced Chinese economy will be a less risky, more stable force in the global economy. The much bigger risk comes from a China that doesn’t discard its failing growth model. That could push China into a financial crisis. Now that’s really something to worry about.

  5. Perth on track to record warmest April on record

    The Bureau of Meteorology has described the weather as bizarre.

    The Perth metropolitan area is on track to record its warmest April since records began more than 100 years ago.

    The city will have its hottest April since 1897 if today's temperature reaches the forecast maximum of 27 degrees.

    The Bureau of Meteorology has described the weather as bizarre.

    He says April was also warmer than March which has only happened on three previous occasions in the past 117 years - in 1924, 1927 and 1999.

    Despite the warm weather, Perth recorded the least amount of sunshine per day since 1981, with 6.9 hours per day compared to the long term average of 8.3.

    The city also had four days in the month when the temperature exceeded 36 degrees.

    The minimum temperature for April was 16.7 degrees which is the second warmest on record.

    The warm days are due to come to an end with rain forecast for tomorrow, the first day of May.


    Perhaps this should read,"LESS icy challenge..."

    Departing Shell chief Ann Pickard faces icy challenge

    THE number of powerful business women on the local scene is to become even more sparse with the return of Shell's boss for Australia, Ann Pickard, to her native America, where she will become executive vice-president of Shell's environmentally controversial exploration and production interests in the Arctic.

    In a move that is expected to be confirmed today, Ms Pickard will be replaced as Shell's Australian chairman and its executive vice-president for exploration and production activities here by Australian Andrew Smith.


    Forrest calls in Credit Suisse to sway US debt markets on Poseidon adventure

    ANDREW Forrest's hopes of reviving the historic Windarra nickel project in the face of low nickel prices will rest on his famed relationship with US debt markets.

    Poseidon Nickel, which is chaired and 32 per cent-owned by Mr Forrest, will announce today that it has mandated Credit Suisse to help it secure the $197 million it needs to develop its flagship project from the US debt market.

    1. Shell is into the Russian Arctic as well.

      MOSCOW — Energy giants Gazprom and Royal Dutch Shell PLC have agreed to jointly develop offshore Arctic oil fields, Russian media reported Monday.

      The companies will develop the Severo-Vrangelevsky field in the Chukchi Sea and the Severo-Zapadny field in the Pechora Sea. Russian Energy Minister Sergei Donskoy was quoted by national media as saying Monday that Shell is likely to have a 33.3 percent stake in the fields.

      Russia is trying to assert jurisdiction over parts of the Arctic, which is believed to hold up to a quarter of the Earth's undiscovered oil and gas. By speeding up the Arctic oil project, the Kremlin is strengthening its bid.

      However, environmentalists have warned that drilling in the Russian Arctic could have disastrous consequences because of a lack of technology and infrastructure to deal with a possible spill in a remote region known for huge icebergs and severe storms.

      The deal between Gazprom and Shell also envisages development of offshore oil fields in South Africa.


      MOSCOW, April 29 (RIA Novosti) – Russia is ready to invest in huge new infrastructure projects in order to help meet Japan’s growing requirements for hydrocarbon resources, President Vladimir Putin said on Monday after a meeting with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Moscow.

      “Russia’s hydrocarbon reserves are so [enormous] that they are also capable of meeting Japan’s growing requirements without detriment to our traditional partners,” Putin told Abe, during the first visit by a Japanese premier to Russia in the last 10 years.

      “This could be joint hydrocarbon production and joint construction of a liquefied natural gas plant," Putin said. "Gazprom is ready to invest its resources in new capacity for gas reception on the territory of Japan, invest in gas pipeline systems and we are ready to consider building additional electric power capacity in Russia for subsequent supply to Japan.”

      Japan is currently struggling with energy shortages and has had to import more gas in order to compensate for the shutdown of a number of nuclear plants following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011.

  6. Sweetwater - Not for much longer!

    The Texas Tribune

    Ready (or Not?) for a Great Coming Shale Boom

    SWEETWATER — About a year ago, talk began circulating in this West Texas town about a huge oil-producing formation called the Cline Shale, east of the traditional drilling areas around Midland.

    Then the oilmen and their rigs arrived. Now homes and hotels are sprouting, “help wanted” signs have multiplied, and a major drilling company has cleared land to build an office and equipment yard.

    “It is coming, and it is big,” said Greg Wortham, the mayor of Sweetwater, who also serves as executive director of the Cline Shale Alliance, a new economic development group.


    Shale, a fine-grained type of sedimentary rock, underlies much of the nation, according to Mr. Small, a geologist.

    In Texas, shales are especially abundant. That is partly because hundreds of millions of years ago, sediment from much of what is now North America washed down toward modern-day Texas, according to Don Van Nieuwenhuise, director of professional geosciences programs at the University of Houston. Marine organisms, from the days when Texas was covered by a shallow sea, were buried and cooked by the earth’s heat and eventually became oil.

    “We have one of the thickest sedimentary wedges in the world,” Dr. Van Nieuwenhuise said.

    Sedimentary rock in the Gulf of Mexico can reach 50,000 feet in thickness, whereas it is about 3,000 feet thick near the Atlantic coastline, he said. That means that Texas could theoretically drill deeper than current onshore norms of about 10,000 feet to 15,000 feet.

    The existence of a shale does not guarantee successful oil and gas production, geologists say. A formation may hold little oil or gas — or it may not be brittle enough for the fracking process to work effectively. Fracking is expensive; one well can easily cost $4.5 million, Dr. Van Nieuwenhuise said. So drilling is likely to slow if global oil prices drop, as they have slightly from a year ago when they topped $100 per barrel. Natural gas drilling has already been slowed by lower gas prices.

    On the other hand, improving technology could boost production.


    “The most optimistic of people believe that we’ve only seen the beginning of a burst of technological innovation, and if you look back from 2020 to fracking techniques in 2013, by 2020 you’ll think these are sort of feudal times,” said Edward Morse, global head of commodities research for Citigroup.


    Devon Energy, an Oklahoma City-based drilling company known for pioneering work in the Barnett Shale, has opened offices in the past 18 months in San Angelo and Abilene, in addition to the planned Sweetwater location. It has nine rigs operating in the Cline and in the nearby Wolfcamp Shale. “We’ve had some encouraging results in the Cline, and we are hopeful and optimistic about our prospects for being successful in this play,” Chip Minty, a Devon spokesman, said.

    Cities with fast-developing shales may find it hard to keep up with the boom.

    If the Cline Shale gets going, “Where are the workers going to be? Where are you going to put them?” asked Diana Davids Hinton, a professor of history at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin and a co-author of “Oil in Texas” (2002). Already, she noted, Midland’s hotels and schools are full. (The University of Houston and the University of Texas of the Permian Basin are corporate sponsors of The Texas Tribune.) In Sweetwater, Mr. Wortham acknowledged that housing remained a concern. However, he said, the schools and roads were well prepared, partly because the area had already experienced a build-out of wind farms.

    “There’s a lot more traffic than there used to be,” he said. “And we haven’t started yet.”

  7. Flow of Tainted Water Is Latest Crisis at Japan Nuclear Plant

    TOKYO — Two years after a triple meltdown that grew into the world’s second worst nuclear disaster, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is faced with a new crisis: a flood of highly radioactive wastewater that workers are struggling to contain.

    Groundwater is pouring into the plant’s ravaged reactor buildings at a rate of almost 75 gallons a minute. It becomes highly contaminated there, before being pumped out to keep from swamping a critical cooling system. A small army of workers has struggled to contain the continuous flow of radioactive wastewater, relying on hulking gray and silver storage tanks sprawling over 42 acres of parking lots and lawns. The tanks hold the equivalent of 112 Olympic-size pools.

    But even they are not enough to handle the tons of strontium-laced water at the plant — a reflection of the scale of the 2011 disaster and, in critics’ view, ad hoc decision making by the company that runs the plant and the regulators who oversee it. In a sign of the sheer size of the problem, the operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company, or Tepco, plans to chop down a small forest on its southern edge to make room for hundreds more tanks, a task that became more urgent when underground pits built to handle the overflow sprang leaks in recent weeks.

    “The water keeps increasing every minute, no matter whether we eat, sleep or work,” said Masayuki Ono, a general manager with Tepco who acts as a company spokesman. “It feels like we are constantly being chased, but we are doing our best to stay a step in front.”


    Even many scientists who acknowledge the complexity of cleaning up the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl fear that the water crisis is just the latest sign that Tepco is lurching from one problem to the next without a coherent strategy.

    “Tepco is clearly just hanging on day by day, with no time to think about tomorrow, much less next year,” said Tadashi Inoue, an expert in nuclear power who served on a committee that drew up the road map for cleaning up the plant.


    But the biggest problem, critics say, was that Tepco and other members of the oversight committee appeared to assume all along that they would eventually be able to dump the contaminated water into the ocean once a powerful new filtering system was put in place that could remove 62 types of radioactive particles, including strontium.

    The dumping plans have now been thwarted by what some experts say was a predictable problem: a public outcry over tritium, a relatively weak radioactive isotope that cannot be removed from the water.

    Tritium, which can be harmful only if ingested, is regularly released into the environment by normally functioning nuclear plants, but even Tepco acknowledges that the water at Fukushima contains about 100 times the amount of tritium released in an average year by a healthy plant.


    “We operate the plant, so we know it better than anyone else,” said Mr. Ono, the Tepco spokesman. He then teared up, adding, “Fixing this mess that we made is the only way we can regain the faith of society.”

    For the moment, that goal seems distant. The public outcry over the plans to dump tritium-tainted water into the sea — driven in part by the company’s failure to inform the public in 2011 when it dumped radioactive water into the Pacific — was so loud that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe personally intervened last month to say that there would be “no unsafe release.”

    Meanwhile, the amount of water stored at the plant just keeps growing.

    “How could Tepco not realize that it had to get public approval before dumping this into the sea?” said Muneo Morokuzu, an expert on public policy at the University of Tokyo who has called for creating a specialized new company just to run the cleanup. “This all just goes to show that Tepco is in way over its head.”

  8. Breaking news :

    WOODSIDE have signed an agreement that allows them to use Shell's FLNG technology.

    Woodside pursues floating LNG option

    Woodside Petroleum and partners in the Browse LNG development have followed up their rhetoric of a speedy resolution to the controversial project's development option, declaring this morning they would work on a floating gas processing operation.

    Project operator Woodside told the Australian Securities Exchange that it and partner Royal Dutch Shell had agreed to the key principles of a framework under which the Browse gas fields could be developed using Shell's industry-leading FLNG technology.

    Woodside chief executive Peter Coleman said that it would now take the framework deal with Shell and put it to the entire consortium, which also includes BP, PetroChina and the Japanese MIMI group, for ratification of the new development concept.

    "This agreement enables Woodside, as operator of the Browse LNG development, to strengthen our development and operational capabilities through the potential use of Shell's design one, build many FLNG technology," Mr Coleman said.

    "It also provides the opportunity for Western Australia to become an industrial, operational and technology centre for excellence for floating LNH worldwide."

    Today's news is not surprising.

    It had been widely expected that Woodside and the Browse partners would adopt Shell's FLNG technology as soon as had dumped the costly James Price Point land-based concept, which Woodside did a fortnight ago.

    At the time Mr Coleman said the Browse partners would consider all other options, including a pared back version of the James Price Point concept as well as piping the gas to existing LNG plants on the Burrup Peninsula.

    However, FLNG was always regarded as the eventual development outcome, particularly because Shell has been lobbying hard for adoption of its technology.

    Shell is already building its first prototype FLNG vessel, for deployment over the Prelude field in the Browse Basin.
    Woodside's shares were down 96.5 cents, or 2.5 per cent, to $37.585 at 12.20pm.


    WELL that's all folks - JPP is all done and dusted as far as Woodside are concerned.


  9. Lawmakers advance bill to halt oil fracking

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Critics of hydraulic fracturing urged lawmakers Monday to impose a moratorium on the controversial drilling technique, saying there is too much uncertainty about its health and environmental effects.

    More than two dozen opponents of "fracking" lined up to share their concerns at an Assembly Natural Resources Committee hearing, where lawmakers advanced three bills to prohibit the practice temporarily. The drilling technique involves blasting water, sand and chemicals into deep rock formations to release oil or natural gas.

    One measure from Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, would halt the practice until an advisory panel analyzes the potential consequences.

    Mitchell said scientific studies have shown a range of environmental and health effects, both positive and negative. Those mixed conclusions have left her constituents, who live near the Inglewood oil field in Los Angeles County, concerned and confused about whether fracking can be done safely.

    "It says to me that we have a cause to pause," Mitchell said.

    Representatives for the drilling industry defended the energy extraction efforts, telling lawmakers there have not been any negative environmental effects from fracking during decades of activity in California. About 80 percent of fracking in California occurs in uninhabited areas near Bakersfield, they said.

    "For a moratorium to be introduced on something that has been safe for 60 years is something that I truly don't understand," said Paul Deiro, a lobbyist with the Western States Petroleum Association.

    Fracking has drawn scrutiny in other states and has just recently become an issue of high interest in California. Oil companies are looking to expand production from the Monterey Shale formation, which stretches from Kern County north through the San Joaquin Valley. It is estimated to be one of the country's largest shale oil formations.


    She contrasted California's oversight with the moratorium in place in the state of New York, which halted new gas drilling activity pending a health study.

    "No public health review is underway," Siegel said. "State oil and gas regulators do not even track fracking, and they are ignoring regulations that should be enforced while instead discussing new rules for fracking that could be years away."

    The bills debated Monday are among the more restrictive proposals moving through the Legislature. A measure from Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, would prohibit state regulators from issuing fracking permits beginning in January 2015 if an independent scientific study has not been completed.

    The Assembly bills consideration Monday are carried by Los Angeles-area Democrats. All three passed on identical votes of 5-3, with Republicans in opposition. The measures now go to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

    AB1301 from Assemblyman Richard Bloom, of Santa Monica, would stop fracking until further legislation is enacted outlining how it can occur.

    Two similar bills, AB1323 and AB649, call for creating an advisory committee to review health, environmental, economic and other effects. They also would recommend regulatory changes.

    Those bills from Mitchell and Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian, of Sherman Oaks, would require state officials to decide by January 2019 if fracking should occur in California.

    California was the third-largest oil producing state last year, behind Texas and North Dakota, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

    All California oil wells are subject to the same regulations, with no specific rules for those using hydraulic fracturing. The California Department of Conservation released draft fracking regulations in December, and agency officials say they hope to adopt final rules next year.

  10. Fracking Boom Means Cheap Coal Assets for Tata: Corporate India

    Bhuma Shrivastava and Rajesh Kumar SinghApr 29, 2013 11:20 pm ET

    (For a daily alert on this column: SALT INCOL )

    April 30 (Bloomberg) -- Tata Power Co., India’s second- largest generator, is seeking coal assets in the U.S., Canada and Colombia as prices of the fuel drop amid surging shale gas supplies in North America.

    Initial purchase talks are on for several mines, Managing Director Anil Sardana said in an interview, declining to identify the assets. Acquisition prospects in South Africa, where Tata Power has scouted for more than a year, have dimmed because of infrastructure concerns, he said.

    “We just want cheap coal and there are several assets that are languishing after the shale gas boom in North America,” Sardana said. “A lot of assets got abandoned because of the boom as existing buyers moved on to shale gas.”

    Cheap coal may help Tata Power, led by Cyrus Mistry, to turn its biggest power plant profitable after a purchase of mines in Indonesia turned sour as the Southeast Asian nation levied export taxes. U.S. power generators have turned to gas extracted from shale rocks as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has made the country the world’s biggest producer of the less polluting fuel, while freeing up coal reserves.


    Editorial: Concerns over fracking in the UK cannot be so easily bought off

    Opposition to a local shale-gas well is not just a matter of ‘what’s in it for me?’

    .....Vast reserves of gas just beneath our feet would be a real boon, then. And although critics warn that another “dash for gas” will set back efforts to develop renewable power, the scale of the looming energy crunch is such that it is hardly a matter of either/or. Indeed, given that energy ranks alongside demographic change as one of Britain’s more intractable problems, all available options must be explored.

    The Chancellor is certainly convinced. “Shale gas is the future and we will make it happen,” he claimed last month, unveiling a Budget that included tax breaks for exploratory drilling projects and the promise of assistance in negotiating the planning regime. Now, the Government is mulling sweeteners for local residents, in the hope that the promise of lower bills, or even funding for community projects, will bring opponents round.

    The problem, of course, is fracking. Shale gas can only be extracted by pumping fluids into the ground at high enough pressure to break up the rock. Opponents warn of earthquakes, chemicals in the water table and pollutants in the air. The US has its share of anti-fracking campaigners, but it is Europe where such concerns are a real brake on development. In some countries – notably France, the Netherlands and parts of Germany – drilling is banned altogether.


    Promises of perks are no bad thing. But they do not reach the heart of the matter. Hostility to a local shale-gas well is not just Nimbyistic “what’s in it for me”; it also springs from reasonable – if ill-informed – concerns about safety. Instead of focusing on big-picture economics, the Government needs to answer these questions, producing persuasive evidence that pollution horror stories from the US record the teething problems of a young industry that can now be avoided. Making clear that a local well will not blight the landscape would also help.

    Shale gas proponents may yet have to trim their ambitions. Not only is crowded Britain a far cry from the wide open spaces of the US. The size of our deposits is also still far from certain, and it is even less clear how much might be commercially produced. Either way, it will be many years before shale gas is lighting our homes. That is not to say that unconventional energy supplies do not have potential. They absolutely do. But there is much groundwork still to do.

  11. Australia: Santos to Target Gas in Mereenie Drilling Program

    Santos has committed to a $100 million drilling and appraisal program over the next 12 months in the onshore Mereenie field in the Northern Territory.

    The Mereenie appraisal and development drilling program will target oil while also evaluating natural gas resources. If successful, Santos will consider a further drilling program.

    Santos has operated Mereenie, 250 kilometres west of Alice Springs in the Amadeus Basin, since 1993. The field has produced more than 16 million barrels of oil and condensate and over 240 billion cubic feet of sales gas since 1984.

    Santos Mereenie Asset Manager Mark Buckland said there are enough oil and natural gas reserves to extend the life of the Mereenie field well beyond 2030.

    “The safe and sustainable development of this project has the potential to deliver economic benefits through jobs, revenue and royalties for many years,” Mr Buckland said.

    The project will see the installation of a new camp and the creation of employment opportunities for local people.

    “Santos is committed to achieving mutually beneficial relationships with the communities in which we operate,” Mr Buckland said.

    “This project is only in its early stages but already we have provided work to Aboriginal people and we will continue to work with the Central Land Council to provide more employment opportunities.”

    The commitment to the Mereenie appraisal and development drilling program is the latest in a recent series of investments by Santos in onshore interests in the Northern Territory.

    In October last year, Santos announced a farm-in agreement with Central Petroleum over 13 permits in the Amadeus and Pedirka Basins. In December, the company struck a farm-in agreement with Tamboran Resources over four permits in the McArthur Basin.