Monday, June 10, 2013

Gas fracking will cause 'irreversible' damage, says Conservation Council of WA |

Gas fracking will cause 'irreversible' damage, says Conservation Council of WA |

“Recently I had an opportunity to visit shale gas fracking areas in the USA and I was horrified,” he wrote in a campaign letter sent out to CCWA supporters and donors this week.

“I met sick families who could not move off their land. I saw gas bubbling out of natural groundwater springs that could be set alight. I was told stories of sick and dying livestock. I met regulators who were turning a blind eye and I saw the gas industry’s armed security guards preventing farmers access to their own land.

“After seeing this I vowed I would do whatever I could to stop this happening in Western Australia…I have no doubt that gas fracking is one of the most serious environmental challenges facing Western Australia.”

Read more:


  1. Piers talks sense.Which is more than can be said for this bloke :

    "RICHARD Sellers, Director General of the WA Department of Mines and Petroleum, spoke to The Sunday Times' John Flint about shale gas extraction."
    From an article in the above series.

    9/6/13 : "How real is the risk of groundwater contamination?

    “There was an independent report released this week from the Australian Council of Learned Academies and that report found there were no Australian cases of shale fracking contaminating water."


    The truth is this :
    7/12/12 : "Santos recently announced success in the South Australian Cooper Basin shale gas joint venture it holds with Beach Energy. The Moomba-191 well, located within 350 metres of existing gas gathering infrastructure, has flowed dry gas at a stabilised rate of 2.6 mmscf/d and connection activities are reported to have commenced to provide Australia’s first commercial production of gas from a shale well."

    19/10/12 : "Santos has today announced Australia’s first commercial shale gas production, known as Moomba-191 shale well, in the Cooper Basin at Moomba in South Australia"

    12/3/13 : "There is currently no shale gas production in Australia, although there are large shale gas reserves in SA, the NT and WA. In the US, shale gas supplies 15 per cent of gas consumption."

    NO wonder the Australian Council of Learned Academies couldn't find any!


    Richard Sellers : "We have actually been very strong long-term regulators here in WA. We have had around 780 fracks since 1958."

    Piers Verstegen : "Industry claim 2: WA has a lot of experience with shale gas fracking

    CCWA: This claim is highly misleading at best. To date there have only been a handful of shale gas wells fracked in WA using the methods that are planned for extensive shale gas fracking developments.

    In making this claim, industry and regulators have conflated shale gas fracking with a very different practice that has been used for years to recover oil from depleted oilfields. Oilfield fracking involves only vertical wells, lower pressures, and less chemicals. This cannot be compared directly with the much greater technical challenges of horizontal drilling and slickwater gas fracking planned for shale and tight gas deposits.


    SO the game remains the same : see how many people that you can pull the wool over their eyes - split the community - set one against the other - say it means lifting blackfellas out of poverty - anyone who stands against is well heeled / a hippie / evil greenie / a blow - in / "the greatest act of self determination" revisited.


  2. Barnett's magic hat trick...

    1/ The magic canal - water flows downhill from the Kimberley to Perth so needs no pumps or power to move it.

    2/ The magic gas plant - costs so much all the companies involved will make huge losses but Barnett says just to please him (shareholders whose money funds these companies have no say) it will be just great at JPP.

    3/ The magic shale gas basin - the gas will flow from tiny little cracks in the shale that wouldn't hurt a fly.(due to start production at any time even though only one drill is there and no fracking crews).


    Barnett's latest magic trick revealed...

    WA mines boss sees big shale potential

    Premier Colin Barnett has been increasingly bullish about shale gas after Woodside Petroleum shelved a plan to process Browse Basin gas onshore at James Price Point.

    But critics point to a lack of infrastructure in the Canning Basin, remoteness and potentially high costs to remove and market the gas.

    While major oil and gas players are looking at the potential of the Canning Basin, commercial production would take at least five to 10 years once successful exploration results had been achieved.

    So far in the Canning Basin there is only one drilling rig capable of drilling to the required depths for shale and tight gas.

    Each well costs about $15 to $20 million to drill and then around $10 million to do hydraulic fracturing, or fracking as it is called.

    Mitsubishi has committed about $60 million to exploration with Buru Energy.
    ConocoPhillips is looking to spend more than $120 million on seismic testing in the south east corner of the basin.


    1. Apart from all this there is going to be a HUGE cost treating and disposing of the billions of litres of flowback and produced water.

      The Canning Basin has some similarities to the Marcellus Shale in the US - although it has been said the Cannings different geology will make it harder.

      The Volume of Wastewater Generated by
      Marcellus Drilling in Pennsylvania
      The Penn State Marcellus Center for Outreach and
      Research has verified estimates are that we will
      see about one well pad per square mile in those
      areas deemed to have economically recoverable
      volumes of natural gas, with six to ten wells per
      pad. The Susquehanna River Basin Commission
      estimates that 72 percent of the 27,510-square-mile
      Susquehanna River basin (Pennsylvania and New
      York) is underlain by the Marcellus shale, but much
      of this area is outside of the portion of the Marcellus
      considered to be economically recoverable. The
      gas industry drilled 1,386 Marcellus wells in 2010,
      compared to 763 in 2009.

      Marcellus shale wells require a large quantity
      of water to aid in the extraction of natural gas.
      Hydrofracturing (“fracking”) (for background on
      hydrofracturing, see
      at_download/file) a horizontal Marcellus well may
      use three to eight million gallons of water, typically
      within about one week. Various sources show that
      much of the water used remains deep underground,
      but the approximately ten percent that resurfaces in
      the subsequent 30 days amounts to about 300,000
      to 800,000 gallons of wastewater per well drilled.


      Data that the gas industry reported to the
      Pennsylvania Department of Environmental
      Protection (DEP) show that the industry produced about 235 million gallons of wastewater in the
      second half of 2010.


      Types and Chemistry of Marcellus
      The fluid that emerges from the top of a Marcellus
      well shortly after hydrofracturing (within ~30
      days) is called flowback water. Produced waters
      surface along with the natural gas after the well is
      in production. We are concerned here mainly with
      flowback water, which is high in total dissolved
      solids (see TDS section), salts, and other parameters
      (Table 1) and may contain sand, heavy metals, oils,
      grease, manmade organic chemicals that aid in the
      fracking process, radioactivity from contact with
      radioactive rocks underground, or other unknown
      or trace contaminants. The untreated flowback
      water can not be discharged to Pennsylvania’s
      streams, lakes, or rivers without undergoing
      treatment. Untreated flowback water is toxic to
      aquatic life, particularly trout and other sensitive
      Fracking Additives
      Sand and chemicals are added to water used for
      hydrofracturing to facilitate gas extraction. Range
      Resources Corporation in summer 2010 became
      the first gas company active in the Marcellus shale
      to disclose which chemicals their company uses in
      fracking and at what amounts. For example, to frack
      a well in southwest Pennsylvania, Range Resources
      reported using:
      • 3.81 million gallons of water
      • 4.57 million pounds of sand
      • 1,333 gallons of hydrochloric acid
      • 1,695 gallons of a friction reducer
      • 2,211 gallons of an antimicrobial agent and
      • 386 gallons of a scale inhibitor (which includes
      ethylene glycol, a component of antifreeze).


    2. Marcellus wastewater cont...

      DEP estimates that it will COST BETWEEN $0.12 and
      $0.25 PER GALLON to treat TDS wastewater originating
      from the natural gas industry. This is expensive
      compared to municipal wastewater treatment
      (pennies per gallon), but treatment costs are
      expected to be miniscule in light of the industry’s
      expected annual revenue in the Pennsylvania.
      Industry observers also note that treatment costs
      are likely to come down as competition between
      processes and providers increases and more
      treatment facilities come on line. This should
      begin in earnest now that the new TDS regulations
      specifically identify the standards the treatment
      industry will have to meet.



      Where To from Here in Addressing the Challenges
      of Drilling Wastewater?

      Industry watchers expect the future breakdown of
      Marcellus wastewater treatment to look something
      like this (all percentages are approximate):
      brine disposal plants-35 percent; deep injection
      wells-10 percent; reuse/recycle-30 percent;
      advanced treatment (e.g., evaporators, crystallizers,
      membranes)-20 percent; publicly owned sewage
      treatment plants-10 percent.


      New Well Casing Regulations

      Regulations strengthening oil and gas well
      construction standards to prevent methane gas
      migration became effective in February 2011.
      DEP’s proposed regulations, which outline many
      standards that the industry must follow in drilling
      and casing new wells, were developed in response
      to recent incidents of methane gas migration into
      drinking water supplies, which pose public health
      and safety threats. The regulations also require
      drillers to detail the chemicals found in flowback
      water, and to electronically report production and
      waste volume data.

      The treatment, handling, disposal, reuse, and
      regulation of Marcellus wastewaters are very
      dynamic issues. Topics to watch for future
      developments include radioactivity in flowback
      water, out-of-basin and out-of-state flows, the
      potential for recycling frack water, and an improved
      system for tracking Marcellus water and wastewater
      flows, including reuse, transportation, treatment,
      and disposal.
      In other U.S. shale gas fields, wastewater is
      often disposed of via underground injection
      or evaporation, neither of which works well in
      Pennsylvania, so the industry has had to come up
      with new solutions. Given the very high TDS levels in
      flowback water, traditional methods of wastewater
      treatment, such as reverse osmosis, don’t work
      well. Another factor hindering innovation was the
      lack of a clear treatment target. Before DEP’s new
      TDS regulation was finalized, the industry did not
      know how clean they would be required to get the
      wastewater, so they could not effectively choose a
      methodology to pursue. Adding to the confusion
      is the difficulty of obtaining sound data for things
      like the amount of flowback water being recycled or
      trucked out of state.
      With DEP’s recent finalization of the TDS and well
      casings regulations, a period of very rapid regulatory
      flux may be ending, clearing the way for innovation
      within the gas and water treatment industries.
      Questions remain about the capacity, methods, and
      costs required to meet the new effluent standards.


    3. Marcellus wastewater cont...

      Citizens and other stakeholders are learning about
      the degree to which Pennsylvania DEP’s policies,
      such as setting new water quality effluent standards,
      affect other states. With the substantial trucking of
      water and wastewater out of state and across river
      basin boundaries, hydrologic interconnections
      are being broken. Transportation may not be a
      sustainable long-term solution to wastewater
      management. Also, there is no river basin
      commission in western Pennsylvania, where a good
      deal of the Marcellus drilling is occurring, so there
      may be a lack of consideration for the broader river
      basin picture. Water doesn’t stop flowing at state
      boundaries. More interstate and possibly federal
      cooperation and coordination may be needed to
      ensure that gas exploration activities in states in the
      Marcellus region can meet the applicable standards
      to protect water resources.


      Under the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act, the U.S.
      Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) classifies
      TDS as a secondary maximum contaminant level
      (sMCL). This means that there is a recommended
      maximum level of 500 mg/L, but no requirement
      that public water systems meet this level. Under
      the Pennsylvania Safe Drinking Water Act and
      associated regulations, however, secondary
      standards are enforceable. TDS is not expected to
      harm human health at the sMCL, although it may
      negatively affect water’s taste. But elevated TDS
      levels may damage water treatment equipment
      or reduce the effectiveness of treatment for other
      contaminants. However, TDS is of particular concern
      to in-stream aquatic health, because at certain
      levels it becomes toxic to aquatic life, increasing
      the salinity in freshwater systems and changing the
      composition of the water. Some constituents that
      are a part of the TDS measurement, such as arsenic,
      lead, and nitrate, can have health effects if they
      exceed drinking water standards.


      DEP developed the new TDS standard for several
      • Some of the state’s waterways have limited
      capacity to assimilate additional TDS and sulfates.
      • The Marcellus shale natural gas industry is
      expanding rapidly in Pennsylvania. Many of the
      areas where Marcellus drilling is prevalent also
      are affected by acidic mine drainage from coal
      mines, which itself can elevate dissolved solids in
      • Because of the difficulty of pinpointing pollution
      sources in the face of water quality problems and
      the many industrial sectors whose wastewaters
      can be high in TDS, establishing an across-theboard
      effluent (wastewater that has been treated
      and is ready for discharge to natural waters) limit
      for TDS levels the playing field.
      • Extensive new treatment capacity needs are
      expected beyond the current limited options for
      treatment and disposal.


  3. BARNETT exclusive : JPP (Elizabeth Point - Port Elizabeth)

    BARNETT gives JPP land to DOW for a vast chemical park !

    "Just the ticket I needed!" exclaimed the premier.

    'Sky's the limit' for Dow Chemical if policies change

    THE Australian chief of one of the world's biggest chemical companies said he would redirect some of the firm's $5 billion a year in capital expenditure to Australia if the country could get its energy policy right and better support innovation.

    Darwin-born Andrew Liveris, chairman and chief executive of Dow Chemical, who is lobbying for cheaper gas supplies to be available to Australian manufacturers, said the "sky is the limit" on how much Dow would commit to Australia under a new policy framework.

    "We spend roughly $5bn a year as a company on growth, through R&D and capital expenditures," Mr Liveris told The Australian and Sky Business. "A lot of that isn't in Australia. A lot of that is in countries that actually get it, that actually understand how to put innovation-centric policies together and resource value-add policies.

    "If Australia started doing that, we would direct some of that here. Frankly, the sky is the limit."


    In a speech last month to an Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association conference, opposition energy spokesman Ian Macfarlane said although a blanket gas reservation policy was not Coalition policy, he proposed "acreage reservation for domestic production on new projects".


    Mr Macfarlane said acreage could be "set aside, wholly or in part, for the extraction of gas for the domestic market".

    "Under such a policy, investors would know exactly where they stand and it would not apply to existing projects. They would go into the extraction process with their eyes open and with a full understanding of the conditions under which their product would be sold."

    He also indicated it was "worth thinking about" whether the "states and/or the commonwealth forgo some of the royalty/(petroleum resource rent tax) to further reduce the gas price".


    Mr Liveris said he remained hopeful there would be change.

    "I'm going to keep coming back and doing what I can to help the country with my global knowledge and to the extent the Coalition, if they come into power, listens and puts in a value-add energy policy for domestic consumers, then Australians win," he said.


    Mr Liveris, who as president of the US Business Council last week announced a new partnership with the Business Council of Australia, also had some advice for his counterpart Tony Shepherd at the BCA, who has been a harsh critic of the Gillard government.

    It was part of the "phases that one goes through", he said, adding: "I think Australia is going through what America went through about five years ago."

    He said the business community was blaming the Obama administration, but "just criticising doesn't get you anywhere", and changes were achieved in partnership with government and by educating the government. He hoped Australia's next government would have "policy choices where business plays a role in those choices".


    (thought they had that already)


    Steel major warns of 'war of attrition'

    One of China's top-five steel makers has warned Australian miners of weaker iron ore prices in the second half of 2013, as much of China's steel industry struggles to break even.

    Ansteel chairman Zhang Xiaogang told London's Financial Times the average iron ore price for 2013 would be between $US110 and $US120 a tonne.

    While the prediction is similar to the $US111 a tonne it was fetching on Monday, the price has averaged much higher, at $US140 a tonne, when measured since January 1.

    Mr Zhang's comments imply price falls are ahead for the commodity, which is Australia's most lucrative export.


    ''We have to prepare for a long-term struggle,'' Mr Zhang said, in reference to the profitability of the Chinese steel sector. ''Some people will collapse during this war of attrition if their cash flow dries up, or if they can't make any money at all.''


    Goldman Sachs cuts Australia economy, currency forecasts


    3000 WA mine jobs disappear

    More than 3000 jobs have disappeared from WA's mining sector this financial year, highlighting that the slowdown has well and truly hit the State.

    The cuts come despite two of the State's biggest developments, the Chevron-led $US52 billion Gorgon ($55.1 billion) and $US29 billion Wheatstone LNG ventures, approaching their peak construction periods and soaking up much of the State's available labour.

    A survey by WestBusiness of WA mining companies' reports and announcements found job losses spread out across the mining sector, from nickel to gold, as local companies struggled with increasing costs and lagging metal prices.

    The biggest losses were in iron ore following the September price meltdown.

    The reported job losses are against a backdrop of continued nervousness in the sector. Industry insiders predict more job losses are imminent at Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton as both companies wield the axe across non-core operational staff while adjusting to expansion projects that are nearing the end of the construction phase.

    The WestBusiness survey found more than 20 mostly listed mining companies had reduced staff in WA. The accumulated job losses do not factor in heavy cuts at contractor and engineering firms.


    Jobseekers pay for mine work

    Desperate jobseekers are offering thousands of dollars in cash to anyone who can help them get mining jobs, as work opportunities in the sector dwindle.

    Labourer Patrick Johnston, 28, has placed an online advertisement offering $5000 as well as his 1994 Ford Falcon valued at $1500, to anyone who can get him an entry-level mine job.

    The university graduate, who recently moved to WA from Ireland, said it was rumoured that applicants had to know someone involved in mine recruitment to be considered for a position.

    Mr Johnston said some recruiters had told him that personal contacts were more important than his extensive worksite experience and safety training.

    He said his offer was not a corporate bribe but a type of spotter's fee similar to those employers paid to recruitment agencies.

    "I've come to WA because it's one of the only places in the world that is not in a recession," he said.

    "I would consider $5000 a cheap price to pay for the brilliant opportunity to work on the mines."

    Mr Johnston's advert is one of several similar Gumtree adverts, with other cash incentives ranging from $1000 to $4000 in return for help securing a mining job, which mostly pay six-figure salaries.

    The incentives appear a sign of desperate times, with an extra 21,000 people in WA joining job queues in the year to May, increasing the State's unemployment rate from 3.5 to 5.2 per cent.

  5. WA SNAPSHOT. cont...

    Canning River awash with toxic problems

    Parts of the Canning River are often effectively dead, according to a report that warns toxic algal blooms and fish kills will become more common in the waterway as Perth's climate dries.

    The Department of Water, the State's main water regulator, has released the results of a two-year study into the health of the Canning and found a wide variety of problems have left parts in crisis.

    Focusing on an area either side of the Kent Street weir in Wilson, the department noted elevated levels of pollutants including copper, lead, zinc and chlordane, a pesticide extremely toxic to fish. In many cases, testing found the contaminants exceeded national and international guidelines and also revealed there were periods of "near anoxic conditions", when the river was devoid of oxygen.

    The study said there was a significant lack in the number and abundance of native fish species, claiming invasive species predominated along with those which could tolerate salt water.

    And in a stark warning, the agency said the Canning's predicament was almost certain to worsen amid projections that Perth's climate was likely to get drier.

    "This may result in increasing impacts to system ecology and is likely to have ramifications for social values (for example, impacts to aesthetic quality and recreational use relating to increased phytoplankton blooms, contaminant build-up and fish kills)," the report said.


    Hames tells PMH critics to 'put up with it'

    Health Minister Kim Hames says it is hard to justify spending taxpayers' money on new "TVs, couches or whatever" at Perth's outdated children's hospital.

    Dr Hames said yesterday community efforts to improve Princess Margaret Hospital by donations to buy equipment were "fantastic".

    More than $375,000 has been donated after _The West Australian _last week highlighted a lack of staff and resources at the Subiaco hospital.


    Dr Hames said he was still setting up a team to show health authorities what should be changed, freshened and updated.

    For parents such as Tonie Blewett, whose son Riley recently spent six months in isolation in PMH to have intensive chemotherapy for acute myeloid leukaemia, the amenities are crucial.

    Ms Blewett spent six weeks sleeping on a plastic recliner chair in Riley's room because the "revolting" fold-out bed was so uncomfortable.

    "Because the nursing staff are so busy, they no longer do the day-to-day care," Ms Blewett said. "They just do the medical side of things."

    She was eventually offered a bed at Ronald McDonald House near the hospital.

    Ms Blewett said she was "quite disgusted" with Dr Hames' comments about the hospital facilities.

    "I'd like to see him spend a week sleeping in one of those recliners," she said. Riley, who is almost two, is free of leukaemia after treatment in April but needs check-ups because he is at a high risk of relapse.

    Dr Hames, who is also Deputy Premier and Tourism Minister, described Opposition calls for him to give up one of his portfolios as "legitimate", saying he did the same as a shadow minister despite believing former Labor health minister and attorney-general Jim McGinty did a good job.

    However, he said he had no intention of giving up either role.
    'I'd like to see him (Dr Hames) spend a week sleeping in one of those recliners.'"Riley's mother *Tonie Blewett *


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