Thursday, August 8, 2013

Fossil Fuel Industry Launches $5 Million Disinformation Campaign in Australia – EcoWatch: Cutting Edge Environmental News Service

Fossil Fuel Industry Launches $5 Million Disinformation Campaign in Australia – EcoWatch: Cutting Edge Environmental News Service

The APPEA’s new $5 million advertising campaign is attempting to paint gas development projects as integral to Australia’s economic and environmental future. However, similar to the mining industry ad blitz around the mining tax, this is a “scare campaign” at its heart that aims to bolster the profits of international companies at the expense of Australia’s land, water, and farming communities. It is a pushback against the successful Lock the Gatecampaign waged against CSG by farmers and environmentalists across Australia. The office of New South Wale’s Chief Scientists has also confirmed wide-ranging community concerns about CSG.


  1. Buru ( BRU ) shares are in a trading halt while their fully funded program for 2013/2014 is released.

    Trading set to resume Monday or when the info is released.

    Deals mainly with getting oil out and to export and the hire of a big state of the art rig for long reach horizontal drilling and some fracking.

    1. The Duchess Paradise coal project sold by Rey Resources to Chrystal Yield Investments Limited.

      Rey have bought into Buru blocks in the Canning Basin.

      "Crystal Ventures Ltd (CVL) is an investment company established in 2009 and it acquired most of the assets of another local investment company which was founded in 1995. The company is wholly owned by Rwandan business people who pooled resources together to meet challenges of economic recovery and take advantage of growth opportunities in a virgin environment.

      The founders were among the pioneers of Rwandas private sector and took on the task of jump-starting the heavily dilapidated private enterprise. Having made a few good investments especially in telecoms, the company earned decent returns that were reinvested to create what is now the biggest investment company in the country.

      CVL ventures in unexplored high risk sectors that yield high returns but also present opportunities for social value addition. In the beginning the company enjoyed monopoly power in some of its businesses but over time this has diminished.

      Today the company operates in a more developed and competitive local and regional business environment and it thrives on innovation, application of appropriate technologies and attracting the best management talent to stay ahead of competitors in all its businesses."

  2. Barnett digs in for onshore Browse gas

    AAP, The West Australian August 8, 2013, 8:48 am

    West Australian Premier Colin Barnett says he hasn't given up pushing for the Woodside-led Browse gas project to be developed onshore in the Kimberley.

    The company earlier this year abandoned plans to build a gas plant at James Price Point and is instead pursuing floating processing, which would involve processing Browse Basin gas on a large purpose-built vessel stationed far off the coast.

    On Friday, the Commonwealth varied the conditions on five of the project's retention leases, clearing the way for Woodside and its joint venture partners to explore the floating plan.

    But Woodside still awaits a decision from the WA government for two Browse leases that lie in state waters.

    Mr Barnett accused the federal government of rushing its decision, saying the leases weren't set to expire until late 2014.

    "So I question why the Commonwealth government is just simply relinquishing any obligation to bring the project onshore or to bring gas onshore," he told Fairfax radio.

    Asked whether the matter could wind up in the courts, the Premier said: "It's a possibility".

    But he indicated a compromise was possible - provided there was an onshore component.

    "If the companies will not do that and say they're going to do a floating production facility offshore, then what I'm saying is two things: we may agree to that in terms of the state-owned gas if you build a supply base at James Price Point," Mr Barnett said.

    "And in the future, not immediately, that you bring some gas onshore."

    While Woodside and Shell favoured a floating development, smaller joint venture partners Mitsui, PetroChina and Mitsubishi were not as keen, he claimed.

    "In the beginning of June, I went to China and Japan, and spoke to the chairmen of each those three companies - I think they are less than convinced."

    Demobilising and remobilising crews for the half a dozen or so cyclones that tear through that area each year would be time-consuming and disrupt production.
    "And for the customers, that's not attractive. They want continuity of supply."

  3. ENB Headlines.


    Shale boom phase one ending

    WHOEVER coined the expression profitless prosperity probably wasn’t thinking of the oil industry but judging by the poor results filed last week by the world’s biggest petroleum producers Slugcatcher suspects the term could soon be applied.


    Woodside’s great gamble Thursday, 8 August 2013

    THE size of the Woodside’s big bet on the so-called Outer Canning Basin has come into focus with news of a $US442 million contract to lock in a rig for a two-year drilling campaign.


    Wage threat to offshore sector

    Tuesday, 6 August 2013

    AUSTRALIA’S offshore oil and gas sector may come under serious threat as a raft of union agreements expire.


    UCLA getting fraccing serious

    Tuesday, 6 August 2013

    UNIVERSITY College London Australia is offering a fraccing good PhD deal, with an extra $500,000 put towards funding PhDs focusing on shale.

    1. U.S. Sen. Murkowski Urges DOE to Expedite LNG Export Approvals

      U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, released a white paper outlining the case for exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and urging swift action on permit approvals before the nation misses a historic opportunity.

      The paper, entitled The Narrowing Window: America’s Opportunity to Join the Global Gas Trade, includes in-depth analysis that leads to a set of pro-growth policy recommendations.

      “We’ve carefully examined the issue of natural gas exports, weighing the evidence and listening to all points of view, but the analytical debate is now over,” Murkowski said. “The United States has a historic opportunity to generate enormous geopolitical and economic benefits by expanding its role in the global gas trade.”

      The U.S. Department of Energy has received more than 20 applications to export LNG to non-free trade agreement countries. Diplomats from many of these nations, including Japan and India, have urged the Obama administration to approve export licenses as quickly as possible.

      “We meet with foreign delegations on a regular basis, and they routinely express their concerns over long delays, as well as the uncertainty surrounding the timeline for review,” Murkowski said. “As a nation, we need to send a clear and resounding message that the United States is a reliable trading partner and is ready to do business.”

      Other nations around the world are already building their export capabilities. Qatar, Malaysia, Australia, and many other countries already dominate the LNG trade. Facilities required to liquefy natural gas for transport, however, are expensive, and also require costly infrastructure to import it.


      USA: FERC Grants Accelerated Construction for Sabine Pass Liquefaction Trains 3 and 4

      The Liquefaction Project has been designed for up to four modular LNG trains, each with an average liquefaction capacity of approximately 4.5 million tons per annum.


      USA: DOE Approves Lake Charles LNG Non-FTA Export Application

      The Energy Department announced that it has conditionally authorized Lake Charles Exports to export domestically produced liquefied natural gas (LNG) to countries that do not have a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States from the Lake Charles Terminal in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

      Lake Charles previously received approval to export LNG from this facility to FTA countries on July 22, 2011. Subject to environmental review and final regulatory approval, the facility is conditionally authorized to export at a rate of up to 2.0 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day (Bcf/d) for a period of 20 years.


      LNG fills Magnolia trains

      Wednesday, 7 August 2013

      THE pieces continue to fall into place for LNG Limited at its proposed Magnolia LNG plant in Louisiana, with the ASX-listed company signing up another tolling customer.

  4. Study to consider rising water levels impact

    Work will soon start on a $100,000 study of the risks rising waters levels and storm surges present to Broome.

    The Broome Shire has commissioned a consultant to assess ways in which the town site is vulnerable along its coastline.

    The study will also look at what can be down to reduce the rates of erosion at the town's beaches.

    Shire president Graeme Campbell says the aim is to establish what needs to be done to ensure buildings and infrastructure are safe and secure for at least the next 50 years.

    "If you have a look at Chinatown, the comparison between the height of the buildings and the sea level, it's probably only half a metre, which is not much," he said.

    "Broome is very flat, so we need to be planning for the future.

    "Do we need to be putting seawalls in or do we need to be raising the height of the buildings?"


    OR BOTH?

    Many people who walk the beach most days will know that in the last 15 years an entire sand dune that used to be in front of the existing dune has been washed away.

    We are one big storm away from losing a big chunk of the main dune.

    The Shire continues to allow people to park their vehicles on the dunes destroying any vegetation that tries to cover them.

    According to the sign there should be no parking or driving on the dunes.

    But could we expect the mob who destroyed Chinatown and spent $8 million doing their best to destroy JPP and the best country we have around here to give a stuff about Cable Beach?


    1. Senate panel warns over climate change

      Bipartisan report highlights scientific link between severe weather events and dangerous global warming

      A bipartisan warning over the dangers of climate change has pierced the electioneering, with a Senate committee pointing to the rising threat posed by extreme weather events and former Liberal leader John Hewson forecasting severe financial pain from unchecked carbon emissions.

      The Senate committee's report highlighted scientific evidence showing a link between climate change and more frequent weather events such as heatwaves and storm surges.

      The Senate panel, which includes Labor, Coalition and Greens members, recommended that "credible and reliable flood mapping" be introduced, along with better access to insurance and amended building codes, in order to help Australia cope with floods, storms and bushfires. The insurance industry has welcomed its findings.

      The Greens called for the committee in the wake of the Queensland floods in 2010 and 2011. Christine Milne, the Greens' leader, told Guardian Australia that urgent reform was needed to better prepare Australia for extreme weather.

      "Local governments aren't changing planning schemes fast enough to prevent people building on floodplains," she said. "And we still haven't got to the point where either of the old parties have a consistent, precautionary approach to climate change.


      The committee's warning coincides with a new report by the Climate Institute that outlines how Australia's financial and physical health is at risk from runaway climate change.

      The report, called Dangerous Degrees, warned that current warming trends would see a temperature increase of at least four degrees by 2100 – well above the internationally agreed limit of two degrees warming.


      This change, the study stated, could significantly affect Australia's social stability, diminish natural resources such as water and trigger greater sea level rises.


      Hewson helped unveil the report and said that climate change could carry an economic cost that would make the global financial crisis seem like a "blip".

      "A failure to change track puts in jeopardy everything for which Australians have worked and their retirement nest eggs," he said.


  5. Reef port builder Gautam Adani facing fines over India breaches

    AN Indian billionaire industrialist at the centre of an environmental battle over the expansion of a Queensland coal port is facing multi-million-dollar fines for environmental breaches at his Gujarat shipping terminal and rising public anger about plans to locate a ship-breaking business in a sensitive coastal area.

    A damning assessment of Gautam Adani's multi-billion-dollar Mundra port and special economic zone in the Indian state of Gujarat by a government-appointed panel has found "incontrovertible evidence" that his company violated environmental clearances and bypassed approval procedures.

    The expert panel, which included officials from India's Environment and Forests Ministry, found those violations had resulted in large-scale mangrove destruction, groundwater contamination, river blockages and fly-ash pollution.

    It noted other authorities, including a Gujarat court, had also previously found serious breaches by the company, which operates the country's largest privately owned port as well as factories and coal-fired power plants at Mundra.


    The panel recommended the government revoke approval for an additional port at Mundra and that Adani pay at least $36 million towards environmental restoration.

    That has failed to deter the company, however, which has sparked fresh alarm among local farmers and fishermen in recent weeks with plans to build a ship-breaking yard -- an industry synonymous with toxic pollution -- within the SEZ.


    The latest furore comes as the Australian government is poised to reveal tomorrow whether it will allow Adani Power -- the company's Australian subsidiary -- to dump up to three million cubic metres of dredged sediment in the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef Marine Park to accommodate a major expansion of its Abbot Point port in Queensland.


    Adani Power bought the 99-year-lease to Abbot Point, near Bowen, in 2011 as part of a planned $10 billion Queensland coalmining project, and has sought approval to build a second coal shipment terminal adjacent to the existing facility.

    BHP Billiton and another conglomerate, GVK/Hancock, also plan to add new terminals to the port.

    Australian environmentalists argue dumping huge volumes of sediment within the marine park poses unacceptable risk to sensitive ecosystems.

    Activists in both India and Australia say the federal government should take note of the Adani Group's record for environmental breaches before making any decision. "Adani are habitual violators of environmental law. Even before environmental clearance is given they begin projects," India's ToxicsWatch Alliance spokesman Gopal Krishna said.

    "Environment groups in India are coming together to work out how to deal with this (company) because every struggle cannot be fought in isolation."

    Adani projects have also sparked alarm in other Indian states, including Madhya Pradesh, where it is accused of illegally diverting irrigation water for a power plant.

    Greenpeace Australia campaigner Erland Howden, in Gujarat yesterday for the Adani annual general meeting, said the group had raised concerns about the company's poor Indian environmental record in its submission to the federal government over Adani Power's Carmichael coalmine project in Queensland's Galilee Basin.

    "Adani has an extensive track record of very poor adherence to environmental regulations in India. We should not be entrusting major developments -- like the largest coalmine to be developed in Australia -- to a company with a record like theirs," Mr Howden said.

    Adani yesterday denied all accusations of environmental breaches at its Mundra site in a written statement, though conceded it had not yet received specific clearance for a ship breaking yard.


    1. World Heritage queries proposed dredging of Great Barrier Reef

      UN body expresses surprise that the government did not inform it of its upcoming decision on expansion of coalport

      The United Nations body responsible for world heritage has said the Australian government has not informed it of plans to create one of the world's largest coalports adjacent to the Great Barrier Reef and should put development on hold.

      Marc Patry, programme specialist at the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, told Guardian Australia that a letter was sent to the government on Thursday asking for more information on proposed dredging to expand the Abbot Point site.


      It is expected that Mark Butler, the environment minister, will announce on Friday whether he will allow for 3m cubic metres of seabed to be dredged and dumped to allow a doubling of the capacity of Abbot Point.


      The port, which sits north-west of the Queensland town of Bowen, now ships nearly 2m tonnes of coal a month. Environmentalists say further development would severely damage the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef.

      Patry said he was surprised the government had not told the World Heritage Centre of Butler's upcoming decision, a situation that is similar to the non-communication of dredging at Gladstone.

      "I would say yes [I am surprised] as we had discussions with the Australian government before this happened," he said. "The development at Gladstone went ahead and we were not informed in time.

      "Generally speaking it's the procedure that we are told about big projects so we can ascertain the impact on the site, but we haven't heard anything from the government, as far as I understand.

      "We sent a letter yesterday to the Australian government to ask for information on the issue. They should know we are watching and curious to see what is happening, to ask if there has been an environmental impact statement and to remind them of the World Heritage meeting in June."


      While conservationists say that increased development and shipping on the reef would damage its vast coral ecosystem, as well as animals such as sea turtles, dolphins and dugongs, supporters of the Abbot Point site argue that it will bring vast economic benefits.

      Polling has showed that the majority of residents on the Queensland coast are against dredged waste being dumped within the Great Barrier Reef marine park, although some MPs and parliamentary candidates have come out in favour of the idea.

  6. Clock stopped on assessment of coal port expansion

    The Federal Government has decided to "stop the clock" for three months on its assessment of the proposed expansion of a north Queensland coal port.

    If approved, the plan would see the Abbot Point coal terminal, north of Bowen, more than double in size to become one of the biggest ports of its type in the world.

    Federal Environment Minister Mark Butler had been expected to hand down a decision on the port expansion this afternoon.

    He now says he has only just received a number of reports, potentially impacting the assessment process.

    Mr Butler says the decision has been put on hold for a period of three months and has called on public comment on one of the reports.

    The expansion of Abbot Point has been on the drawing board for more than five years.

    It calls for large-scale dredging, and environmentalists have long been concerned it could significantly damage the Great Barrier Reef.

    They argue that dumping three million cubic metres of dredged seabed near the reef will have a devastating impact on the World Heritage area.

  7. Mine approval 'horrifies' green groups

    Green groups say they are horrified Clive Palmer's $6.4 billion coal mine and rail project has been approved in western Queensland.

    The state's coordinator-general approved the Waratah Coal-China First Galilee Coal project on Friday, subject to strict conditions.

    The mega project must also be approved by the federal government before it can go ahead.

    The enterprise involves clearing thousands of hectares of vegetation on the Bimblebox nature refuge that is the habitat of the endangered black-throated finch and at least 220 species of plant.

    The conditions include drafting species, weed, bushfire, erosion, water management plans.

    But Greenpeace spokeswoman Louise Mattiesson says those are standard for mining projects and only require Mr Palmer to provide more plans without actually doing anything.

    "We're horrified that the Queensland government could approve this massive, very destructive project," she told AAP.

    "It just shows how weak the state's environmental laws are when it will bulldoze 14,000 hectares of bushland, including a nature reserve."

    The Friends of the Earth and Lock the Gate Alliance (LGA), who held a protest against the approval outside state parliament on Friday, were also deeply concerned.

    "The conditions make it clear that no one involved has properly studied the impacts," LGA spokeswoman Hannah Aulby told AAP.

    "They should suspend this project immediately.

    "The conditions are too weak and they've prioritised mining interests over everyone else."

    Greens senator Larissa Waters said it would be the third massive coal mine the Newman government had approved in the Galilee Basin since coming to power last year.

    "The three mega coal mines would significantly increase Australia's contribution to global climate change, producing 100 megatonnes of coal every year," she said in a statement.

    "That's seven times more than the amount produced by Australia's current largest coal mine and more than one and a half times Queensland's total annual emissions."

    Senator Waters added that coal would be exported through the Great Barrier Reef and turn the World Heritage Area into a shipping super highway.

  8. It is nice post and i found some interesting information On Messages On Hold Australia. Keep it up

  9. Not much Browse for WA

    Fresh doubts have emerged over how much power Premier Colin Barnett wields over the non-conforming Woodside Browse LNG consortium amid suggestions the WA Government controls as little as 4 per cent of the massive gas fields off the Kimberley coast.

    It has sparked talk within WA's oil and gas industry that the Woodside Petroleum-led consortium may push ahead with a floating LNG development for the Browse Basin fields, which are spread across seven retention leases, even without State Government support.

    Mr Barnett is staging a lone battle against plans by the consortium to develop the Browse gas fields through a floating LNG operation and is refusing to bow to requests from the Woodside Petroleum-led group to axe conditions that mandate James Price Point as the LNG processing site.

    Federal Resources Minister Gary Gray earlier this month approved the relevant amendments on the five Commonwealth retention leases covering the fields.

    Mr Barnett's resistance is based on the fact the other two retention leases are under State control, and his claim that the consortium therefore needs his government's support before any development can happen.

    Mr Barnett hinted a week ago a commitment by the consortium to build a $2 billion industry supply base at James Price Point may be sufficient to win his support.

    But it has emerged the WA Government's influence over the Browse fields may be minimal.

    The State leases cover part of the Torosa gas field, which is estimated to contain almost half of the overall project's 15.9 trillion cubic feet of dry gas and 436 million barrels of condensate.

    Informed industry insiders say the WA share of Torosa is as little as 8 per cent, or the equivalent of just 4 per cent of the overall project's gas and condensate volume.

    None of the players involved in the Woodside Browse project would discuss Torosa's equity breakdown, which remains subject to unitisation agreements.

    Mr Barnett said last night he believed the State's share of Torosa "is up to 20 per cent, however, this is yet to be formalised".
    The consortium is expected to formally adopt FLNG as its development option within weeks in an attempt to demonstrate to the Federal Government it is committed to the fields' fast-tracked development.

  10. Barnett can now officially wave goodbye to JPP and the supply base.

  11. Anybody know what is happening with the verdict from the court case re environment approvals?

    It is 2 months now.

  12. Still they battle on.

    Ed Vulliamy

    The Observer, Sunday 11 August 2013

    Strange tale of Shell's pipeline battle, the Gardaí and £30,000 of booze

    Shell's Corrib gas project has been delayed for years by strong resistance in County Mayo. Now claims are emerging of corporate sweeteners, including a consignment of alcohol for police after a clash with protesters

    For 10 years, the Shell oil and gas behemoth has endeavoured to bring ashore a pipeline from the Atlantic into the heart-stopping beauty of Ireland's County Mayo seaboard. And for 10 years, local people whose ancestors farmed the land and fished the ocean have been determined to stop it.

    The struggle has become an epic clash between the Goliath that is Shell, backed by the Irish police, and a group assembled around the umbrella protest group Shell to Sea, whose founder, retired primary schoolteacher Maura Harrington, says that, "thanks in no small measure to the Shell to Sea campaign, the project is 10 years behind schedule and its budget has trebled".

    An internationally award-winning film, The Pipe, directed by Risteard O'Domhnaill, has vividly charted the confrontation on the little rural strands; farmers and fishermen beaten and jailed; riot police and balaclava-clad guards mobilised across little lanes winding through bog to the brine.

    But beyond these surreal scenes, a stranger battle rages as Shell struggles for the "hearts and minds" of the community, using what the senior press officer for the company in Ireland, John Egan, calls "accommodation services" – sweeteners, or "donations", to the people of the region.

    The campaign to win the residents' goodwill has sometimes displayed dashes of Whisky Galore-style farce – shower facilities for the local football team and suchlike. But it has also become a morality play of sorts, shedding much light on how the cogwheels of big corporate influence turn in a remote rural community.

    And the "accommodation services" have become the focus of a bitter dispute between Shell and a tiny oil services company, OSSL, which claims that it was charged with "greasing the palms" of interested parties on County Mayo's coastline. The company, managed by Desmond Kane from Glasgow and Neil Rooney from Belfast, insists that the services it carried out for Shell even ran to providing the police force with alcohol soon after a major clash with protesters – along with other outlandish favours to residents.

    More sinisterly, OSSL also claims that a Shell manager demanded that Rooney withhold evidence after the clash, which occurred at Pollathomais in 2007. Rooney says that he heard an officer say of the pipeline protesters, "drive them into the sea", but was told that this "cannot be part of your statement" to an ombudsman because the officer concerned was "our man" and "had to be protected at all costs".

    OSSL's allegations come in the wake of a recent report by a special rapporteur for the United Nations which found "excessive and disproportionate use of force against protesters" peacefully opposing the pipeline.

    Rapporteur Margaret Sekaggya said that she "received credible reports and evidence … indicating the existence of a pattern of intimidation, harassment, surveillance and criminalisation of those peacefully opposing the Corrib gas project … Moreover," she reported, "there have been serious concerns about the lawfulness of certain actions of the private security firm employed by Shell."

    The rapporteur "expresses her concern at … shortcomings in official investigations, particularly those relating to the use of excessive force and abusive behaviour by the police".


    Full story :




    Rudd tax plan hits WA gas hub hopes

    WA's ambition to be the regional hub for two frontier energy technologies - floating LNG and shale gas - has been dealt a blow by Kevin Rudd's plan to slash Northern Territory-based companies' tax by a third.

    The Prime Minister announced his radical, uncosted plan in Darwin yesterday en route to Perth, where he will today campaign in the Liberal-held Federal seats of Hasluck and Swan.

    Under Mr Rudd's three-point plan, Labor would create a special economic zone for northern Australia, with relaxed foreign investment rules across the top end, from WA to Queensland.

    But, controversially, Mr Rudd has proposed cutting the 30 per cent company tax rate to 20 per cent for businesses that base themselves in the NT, a proposal that instantly sparked concern businesses would shift headquarters to Darwin.

    Mr Rudd disputed suggestions Labor's policy put WA at a disadvantage, saying section 99 of the Constitution meant the Commonwealth could not discriminate between States on taxation.

    "If there's a constitutional challenge, I'll be the first one, if I'm prime minister, out there ensuring that the Australian Government defends that case in the High Court," Mr Rudd said.

    "It costs more to be up here because it's so far away and if we as a nation have a view that this is an important integral part of Australia's future, then we should be thinking creatively about how we make that more possible for people."


    Premier Colin Barnett said the PM's proposal discriminated against WA and was a "critical" threat to growth in the Kimberley's oil and gas industry.

    Mr Barnett, who is already at war with Canberra over Woodside Petroleum's plan to develop the Browse gas fields using floating LNG technology rather than an onshore plant at James Price Point, rejected Mr Rudd's claim that a company tax cut for WA and northern Queensland would not be possible.

    "Since the 1940s, we have had an income tax zone rebate across all of northern Australia . . . so, on the same basis, you could surely have a lower rate of company tax that applied right across northern Australia," he told State Parliament. "I would say to Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott developing the north is great; make tax concessions for people living there, company tax concessions - great. But apply it across northern Australia, including the Kimberley and northern Queensland."


    Mr Rudd will today announce Perth as headquarters for an oil and gas innovation partnership that brings together 35 business and research institutes to drive innovation. The venture will aim to attract $180 billion in investments to Australia.

    Woodside, Shell and Santos have signed up to the project to create an oil and gas research precinct in Perth.

    WA Opposition Leader Mark McGowan stopped short of criticising the PM's NT plan, saying Federal Labor had invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the Kimberley.

    "In a re-elected Rudd government, I would continue to vigorously pursue the economic interests of WA, including in the north of the State," Mr McGowan said.

    Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said Mr Rudd had finally awoken to the potential of northern Australia and was playing catch-up on the coalition's plans for northern Australia.

    "We'll carefully look at what Mr Rudd announced, although it appears there are no costings, it appears there is not even a substantial document . . . we'll have a look at it to see if there is anything useful here," Mr Abbott said.

    The coalition's plan includes development incentives, less red and green tape, relocating Commonwealth agencies and overcoming the "dam-phobia".

  14. Rudd's northern plan 'discriminatory'

    Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's plan to set up a special economic zone in the Northern Territory is "discriminatory" and could harm adjoining States, Premier Colin Barnett says.

    Mr Rudd announced today that a re-elected Labor government would set up a special economic zone, where NT-based companies would enjoy a lower corporate tax rate, simplified investment rules and streamlined regulation.

    The plan was immediately described as "catch-up politics" by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.

    In parliament, Mr Barnett went further by saying Mr Rudd should roll out the plan in the Kimberley region and in north Queensland.

    "Why is the Kimberley excluded, and why is northern Queensland excluded?" Mr Barnett said.

    "An advantage has been given to next door in Darwin, and has profound implications for Western Australia. This is discriminatory and it could have severely adverse affects on the development of the Kimberley.

    "What I would say to Kevin Rudd, and Tony Abbott, is that developing the north is great ... but apply it right across northern Australia."

    The plan would also expand the Ord River Irrigation Scheme to open up 14,000 hectares of land for agriculture.
    Mr Rudd is due to arrive in Perth late on Thursday, and is expected to campaign around the city on Friday.


    It's a hard sell as west looks east with anger

    ...........At the moment, the state Liberal government is on the nose, after handing down an unpopular budget and presiding over growing debt. There have also been ministerial missteps by some of Colin Barnett's less able team. This should be fertile ground for federal Labor to exploit.

    But the news isn't good for Labor, either anecdotally when talking to locals, or according to the internal polling. If it had been we would have seen Rudd in WA long before now.

    Labor got WA offside with the first incarnation of the mining tax in 2010. The relationship hasn't improved since, and voters I spoke to when visiting the state this week were quick to draw a distinction between state and federal issues.

    Anger at the Barnett government pales into insignificance alongside the long-held anger directed at federal Labor, which played out in the 2010 results.

    The most likely scenario therefore at this year's federal election is a status quo result in Western Australia.

  15. Fracking probe promises to be 'far reaching'

    The chairman of a parliamentary inquiry looking into the impacts of fracking in Western Australia says it is likely the investigation's terms will be broadened.

    The inquiry will investigate the impact that hydraulic fracturing of unconventional gas has on land and groundwater.

    The terms also include the reclamation and rehabilitation of land where fracking has occurred and the regulation of chemicals used in the process.

    Simon O'Brien says the inquiry is designed to be "far reaching".

    "We've deliberately adopted wide terms of reference so that we can expand our enquires and look at other related issues that come up during the course of our inquiry," he said.

    "The whole purpose of course is to make sure that we've got a complete and non-partisan and objective body of information that the public and future governments can rely on in making their discussions about shale gas.

    "We want to make sure that we get down to the bottom of all of the questions that are raised in the public mind, about land rights, about access to land, all of those sorts of things so that we've got a body of work which can inform the public and inform public debate in the future."

    Public submissions to the inquiry are open until September 20.

  16. The opening up of Northern Australia is hitting a fair bit of turbulence.

    If the Lake Argyle dam isn't big enough to grow a "sugar bowl" then just how big must these new dams be?


    Shire questions PM's northern promises

    Enthusiasm for the Prime Minister's election visit yesterday has been replaced by disappointment, with some local leaders saying Labor's promises were too shallow.

    Kevin Rudd pledged to create a northern economic zone, which would give Northern Territory businesses tax cuts but not those based in northern WA.

    He also promised to spend $10 million expanding the Ord Irrigation Scheme into the Northern Territory.

    Wyndham East Kimberley Shire president John Moulden says that is not enough money to tackle native title hurdles and water capacity challenges.

    "It will take further investment and commitment to really clear that hurdle and beyond that there's many other issues," he said.

    "Another big one for Ord stage three is is there enough water in the system at the moment to really take across the border into the Territory?"


    It seems the people in the southern states still see this move as something that compensates for them having completely screwed up the Murray Darling Basin.

    Does anybody really understand the challenges of this or is it just another blind rush for some perceived easy dollars?


    Boosting regional development

    .......Unfortunately, both sides' proposals for the north have a flavour of big government. They should not give up, however. Northern Australia offers comparative advantages in agriculture, tourism, mining and other industries. Governments should offer encouragement where they can in infrastructure, land release and zoning policies, faster approvals and favourable workplace relations laws. In the case of the Top End, the government also must assist in paring back the crocodiles.

    Mr Rudd was campaigning in the Territory on Thursday, but north Queensland, with its fertile land, reliable rainfall, transport links, easy access to major ports, and established health and education services has greater potential than the Territory to be an alternative food bowl to the depleted Murray-Darling Basin. Beyond our capital cities, the regions around Townsville, Cairns and Mackay are already fast growing areas.

    While the Territory's economy grew by 30 per cent last year, four times as fast as Western Australia's, the Territory is home to just 1 per cent of Australia's population. It will boom with or without government largesse, principally because of the Japanese firm Inpex's $34 billion liquefied natural gas plant. The project will generate 4000 jobs in Darwin during the peak construction phase in 2015 and 700 jobs after it becomes operational. Successive prime ministers since World War II have talked about opening up the north and projects such as the natural gas plant suggest the area's time for expansion has come. As with any region, prosperity will depend not on government intervention but on productive enterprise.

  17. This move north is reminiscent of the when the cities of Europe were knee deep in raw sewerage and nobody had yet worked out the connection between filth and disease.

    It seems we still haven't figured it out.

    When everything turns to sh*t just move on and repeat the same mistakes elsewhere.


    ".....In medieval European cities, chamber pots were emptied directly into the streets. New fashions and courtesies evolved -- gentlemen wore high heels to protect their long trousers from the filth and broad brimmed hats to protect their heads from excrement flying out second-story windows. Ladies walked close to the buildings, where they were less likely to receive a direct hit.

    Diseases spread across Europe. Between a quarter and a third of the population died from cholera, typhoid fever -- spread by excrement-contaminated drinking water -- and plague, which was transmitted by fleas living on rats who thrived in the filthy conditions. Dysentery alone wiped out ten thousand crusading knights and foot soldiers. During the Crusades, Europeans learned basic aspects of science and hygiene from the Muslims whose culture they sought to destroy, and plumbing was rediscovered and brought back into use. But the open sewers remained open and caused huge problems in Europe's fast-growing cities.

    In London, storm drain effluent poured into the Thames, which caused the years of 1858 and 1859 to be known as the Great Stink. Dr. William Budd commented on the historic nature of the event:

    For the first time in the history of man, the sewage of nearly 3 millions of people had been brought to seethe and ferment under a burning sun, in one vast open cloaca lying in their midst. . . . Stench so foul we may believe had never before ascended to pollute this lower air; never before, at least, had a stink risen to the height of an historic event.


    And so the sailing gods set sail for far away places taking their filthy disease with them. They wrought havoc upon the beautiful cultures they touched with horrific plagues and much killing and stealing - their eyes burning with greed - the bloodthirsty armies carved out their colonies.....


    The time came for them to destroy northern Australia.

    The last of highway 1 - out near Yiyili - was bitumised in 1986.

    The boom in Broome began with McAlpine "discovering" the place & then grinding to a halt in 1989 with the Keating recession that "we had to have".

    The big boom took off again in 1996 with the 2 shopping centres - Paspaley and Boulavard.

    Roebuck Bay went from having a couple of tinnies launched by local families a week to some days hundreds of tinnies targeting all the hot spots.

    Within 10 years local rock fishing had become very difficult with catches severely declining.

    Algae blooms and storm water runoff became a real problem.

    Erosion and rising sea levels threatened.

    The mad dreams of Barnett and the gas plant wars that proved none of the colonists could count to 3.( 1 gas train at an ideal spot for them costs $15 billion - how the hell can anyone build 3 at the worst spot for them for the same price? )

    The cult of the fast buck and the dirty dollar threatened to rule and drag down and destroy this last chunk of beautiful country forever.

    Does the Kimberley truly have an aura that will protect it?
    Or will the successive waves of invaders gradually wear her down?

    Is there really something that says the Kimberley will survive because world events will come to a head before it is wrecked?

    It is almost 30 years since McAlpine discovered Broome - what will the next 30 bring?

  18. Peel-Harvey estuary a toxic mess

    Toxic black sludge in Mandurah's fragile Peel-Harvey estuary has reached levels unseen anywhere else in the world, research has found, amid suggestions the Dawesville Cut is failing to alleviate algal growth and nutrient build-up.

    And a separate investigation has found the estuary is returning to the state it was in before the $57 million cut was created, and warns its rehabilitation is unlikely under existing management.

    Almost 20 years after the completion of the Dawesville Cut, designed to flush out algae and excessive nutrients, the waterways are plagued by toxic algal blooms and sulphidic black sediment.

    A four-year study funded by the Australian Research Council, to be completed next year, has uncovered unprecedented levels of black sulphidic ooze, which can cause deoxygenation and lead to fish deaths.

    Lead researcher Richard Bush, from Southern Cross University, said the rapid development in the region was a contributor to the build-up of black sediment and phosphorous, caused by fertilisers.

    "It's an incredibly toxic material that is accumulating very fast. The concentration of sulphide exceeds any of the reported levels we've seen in similar environments across the world," he said.

    Professor Bush said the Dawesville Cut "definitely doesn't seem to have fixed the problem in terms of toxic sediments".

    A separate report, to be released by Murdoch University in conjunction with CSIRO, WA Marine Science Institution and WA Fisheries, found the health of the estuary was at a "critical juncture" and action was needed to prevent further decline.

    Sarah Metcalf, from Murdoch's school of management and governance, said housing values, tourism and recreation were at stake as the condition deteriorated.

    The report highlighted flaws in the management of the estuary, with overlapping jurisdictions and fragmented administration resulting in "weak or non-existent" monitoring.

    Jan Star, chairwoman of the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council, said the estuary was being neglected. "The pressure to put more urban development down there is only going to increase the nutrient load going into the river," she said.

    Department of Water science branch manager Malcolm Robb said the problem was in the upper reaches of the estuary, near the Murray and Serpentine rivers.

    Substantially less flushing from the rivers contributed to the nutrient loads. Marine scientists were investigating reports of increased black mud and algae.
    "Livestock grazing, dairies, horticulture, urban development and septic tanks all contribute to the problem of nutrient loading," Mr Robb said.

  19. Rinehart 'ecstatic' at PM's bid to transform Territory

    GINA Rinehart has welcomed Kevin Rudd's promise to establish a special economic zone in the Northern Territory, declaring she is "ecstatic" that both major parties have now embraced her push for lower taxation and less regulation in the nation's north.

    But the Prime Minister was forced to defend the policy after two key ministers, Employment Minister Bill Shorten and Resources Minister Gary Gray, conceded they were unaware of the timing of the announcement.

    Under Labor's plan, companies based in the NT would have a lower corporate tax rate by 2018, along with simplified investment rules and streamlined regulation.

    The support by Mrs Rinehart for Mr Rudd's northern Australia plan, comes after several years of tension between the billionaire head of Perth-based mining house Hancock Prospecting and the federal Labor government.

    Former treasurer Wayne Swan labelled Mrs Rinehart, Australia's richest person, a "threat to democracy" over her opposition to the mining tax.


    "For those who think less taxes aren't important to economic growth, just look at what happened when Sir Joh Bjelke Petersen, when premier of Queensland, eliminated death duties in Queensland," Mrs Rinehart said in a statement to The Weekend Australian.

    "Many migrated to Queensland, and billions of dollars were invested in new accommodation and facilities.

    "Sir Joh became Queensland's longest serving premier, and despite no record resource boom and consequent increased revenue that Australia has enjoyed these last five or six years, when Sir Joh left office, he left no debt and cash in kitty."

    The Coalition has accused Mr Rudd of borrowing its northern development idea, despite ridiculing the opposition's proposals as a wacky plan that would divide Australia in two.

    Opposition finance spokesman Andrew Robb said it was now clear the announcement had been made without consultation and "Mr Rudd's northern Australia frolic is being made up as he goes".

    Sources have said that Mr Rudd took the policy to Labor's policy development committee, of which Mr Shorten is a member, on regaining the prime ministership.

    Mr Rudd said he had consulted Treasurer Chris Bowen and Finance Minister Penny Wong, who are also on the committee and had worked on the policy for six weeks.

    "You would expect that during an election campaign, that when the final product of a policy is put out, that the ministers are informed of that at that time," the Prime Minister said.

    At a media event in Perth alongside Mr Rudd, Mr Gray said he knew about the Ord River element of the policy but not the other elements.

    Mr Shorten, who told Melbourne radio he had found out about it yesterday, clarified that it had been discussed in the leadership group for a number of weeks, and he had been referring to the timing of the announcement.

    "These ideas have been under discussion by the leadership group for a number of weeks," he said.

  20. Troppo tax blunts PM's costings attack

    With his troppo tax cut for businesses that shift to the Northern Territory, Kevin Rudd has done himself considerable damage.

    With a view to taking Solomon in the NT and a few northern Queensland seats from the coalition, the Prime Minister has put forward a vague plan that both undercuts his claims for economic credibility and blunts Labor's main attack on the Opposition.


    Labor's chief aim this election campaign is to corner the coalition on its election costings.

    So to present his own giant, uncosted plan is plain odd, even if you accept Mr Rudd's defence that the NT plan is beyond the four-year Budget period.

    It's a policy stinker that is unlikely to see implementation because of the risk of arbitrage, the principle of uniformity and the inherent dangers in creating tax havens.

    Section 99 of the Constitution prevents discrimination between States on tax.

    So to propose using the NT's status as a territory to potentially disadvantage equally remote areas of northern WA and northern Queensland is a recipe for resentment.

    Mr Rudd was on the defensive yesterday about his lack of consultation before announcing the policy on Thursday.
    Leaders are afforded greater latitude during election campaigns, but this policy was a captain's call that shouldn't have been made.


    Labor announces floating research centre for oil and gas

    A re-elected Rudd Labor Government would establish a new National Floating Systems Research Centre in Perth.

    It would be led by the CSIRO and the Australian Institute of Marine Science in partnership with industry.

    Labor has also announced that Perth will be the national headquarters of the Oil and Gas Innovation Partnership.

    It says these initiatives are a key part of Labor's plan to assist Australia transition to new sources of economic growth as the China resources investment boom slows.

    Labor says oil and gas investment in Australia will reach $200 billion over 5 years, with over 100,000 new jobs created.

    Forecasts suggest that by 2025, investment could increase to $260 billion.

    Labor would contribute $30 million to the project, while industry partners would match the investment.

    It is believed the partnership had the potential to attract an additional $180 billion or 1.5 per cent of GDP.

  21. Barnett braces for gas hub appeal decision

    The Barnett Government is bracing for a setback in its quest to develop a gas hub in the Kimberley ahead of a decision today on whether its environmental approvals for the contentious project were lawful.

    More than a year after former environment minister Bill Marmion endorsed the proposed gas hub at James Price Point, Supreme Court Chief Justice Wayne Martin will this morning hand down his judgment on an appeal against the approval.

    It is understood the Government gives itself only a 30 per cent chance of winning the case.

    The Wilderness Society launched the appeal after it emerged the entire board of the Environmental Protection Authority, except chairman Paul Vogel, had to remove themselves from deliberations over conflict of interests.

    The EPA's report, hastily prepared by Dr Vogel alone, recommended the gas hub go ahead.

    Although Woodside Petroleum and its Browse project partners walked away from the gas hub proposal in April, an adverse ruling by Justice Martin would be a major blow to Premier Colin Barnett.

    Mr Barnett, who long championed the project, vowed in the aftermath of Woodside's decision to push ahead with plans to acquire land at James Price Point.

    He wants the site as a supply base for the floating LNG vessels that would develop the Browse gas offshore.

    A defeat could reset the environmental approvals process and significantly delay Mr Barnett's acquisition plans.

    During two days of hearings in June, Justice Martin queried whether the process leading up to Mr Marmion's decision had been unacceptably compromised by the EPA's deliberations.

    Two of the EPA board's five members ruled themselves out in 2009 over conflicts but it was not until 2011 that another two disclosed their interests and February 2012 that they were removed from the process.

    Questioning the State's lawyers during the hearings, Justice Martin suggested Dr Vogel's conclusions, and therefore Mr Marmion's, had been tainted by earlier decisions taken by the EPA board.
    "If it's tainted you have got to start again," he said. "If the assessment has not been done in accordance with the Act . . . you say 'well, unfortunately as a result of errors made by Dr Vogel . . . and members of the authority as to the extent to which they disclosed, the process is miscarried. We cannot rely on the fruit of the poisoned tree'."

    1. Court rules against James Price Point gas project saying approval 'illegal'

      THE WA Supreme Court deals another blow to the State Government's plans to develop a gas project at James Price Point in the Kimberley.

      Today's Supreme Court decision is another embarrassing blow to a planned multi-billion dollar Kimberley gas hub, with the state's Chief Justice ruling the environmental approval for the project was unlawful.

      The proposed onshore gas hub at James Price Point was already in limbo, after energy giant Woodside announced earlier this year it would instead consider processing Browse Basin gas on a vessel stationed far offshore - despite fervent backing for a land-based hub by Premier Colin Barnett.

      Chief Justice Wayne Martin gave the government another major headache, handing down damning verdicts on its environmental approval process.

      The Wilderness Society, and Goolarabooloo elder Richard Hunter, had argued conflicts of interest in the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) assessment process resulted in just one EPA board member - chairman Paul Vogel - making the final decision.

      They also said the state's then-environment minister Bill Marmion had erred by granting his approval despite the conflicts. Chief Justice Martin agreed with both arguments.

      ``The minister's statement that the Browse LNG Precinct proposal could be implemented subject to conditions was not a valid exercise of the powers conferred upon the minister,'' the judgment said.

      It is open to the WA government to appeal the ruling, but the Wilderness Society warned it would then cross-appeal.

      It could also mean any environmental approval process for the Browse project may have to be started again, which could take years.

      Peter Robertson of The Wilderness Society says the onshore project is now ``dead and buried''.

      ``Premier Colin Barnett must face facts, drop this unhealthy obsession,'' Mr Robertson said. He also called on both Mr Vogel and Mr Marmion to resign.

      ``I believe Mr Vogel made a fatal error and his position as chairman of the EPA should be brought into question,'' Mr Robertson said.

      ``I would say the same thing about the minister - he was told at the time this decision was likely to be unlawful and he ignored that, and that is on his head.''

      Mr Hunter said the ruling was also a vindication for the land's traditional owners.

      ``Our people are strong - we won't be bullied into a corner by the government,'' Mr Hunter said.

      After Woodside dumped plans for a liquefied natural gas processing facility at James Price Point in April, the WA government went ahead with acquiring the land, saying it wanted to keep the area available for future projects.

      Albert Jacob, WA's current environment minister, said the government is digesting the decision and will seek advice from the State Solicitor's Office.

  22. Warning of long wait on Ord scheme

    The Chinese-backed company developing agricultural land near Kununurra has warned it may take until next decade to extend the Ord River irrigation scheme across the border into the Northern Territory.

    Kimberley Agricultural Investments has made no secret of the fact it would like to secure land in the NT as part of plans to develop a sugar industry based around the Ord scheme.

    Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced last week that Labor would give the NT Government $10 million to help settle native title claims on 14,000ha of land earmarked for agriculture if the scheme was extended.

    The announcement took KAI by surprise, as did Mr Rudd's visit to Kununurra where the company is based.

    The project has little chance of proceeding without a huge investment from KAI, an Australian company ultimately owned by Chinese construction giant Shanghai Zhongfu.

    The WA, NT and Federal governments have all pointed to KAI when asked who would pay to extend the scheme into the NT.

    KAI has started land clearing after the WA Government named it as the preferred developer of 13,400ha released as part of the second stage of the Ord scheme.

    The WA Government spent $311 million on infrastructure, including a 31km extension and upgrade of the main irrigation supply channel. The Federal Government invested $195 million in social and community infrastructure in Kununurra, Wyndham and surrounding communities as a catalyst for major private development on the Ord.

    KAI has pledged to spend $700 million developing the land for cropping under a peppercorn lease and to build a state-of-the-art sugar mill. It has always said the land in the NT was needed to make construction of the mill viable as part of an overall investment some estimate could top $1.5 billion.

    KAI general manager Jim Engelke said there were many hurdles to cross before talks with the NT Government could begin.

    "The project would take the best part of a decade to get from where we are today to its full potential and that is assuming a smooth development progression," he said.

    Mr Engelke said development approvals were not in place for the Knox section of the land released under stage two and land clearing at the 6600ha Goomig section had just begun.

    "We are looking at two to three years for the Goomig development and then another three for Knox, maybe into a fourth year," he said. "Even if work began in the last two years of the Knox development, any move into the territory might take five years depending on how many resources were thrown at it."

    KAI and the WA Government are expected to sign off on a deal this month.

    Mr Engelke said there was a misconception that the bulk of the leases were for 50 years. Some were for 10 and 12 years.

    It is believed there will be an option to extend shorter leases depending on ground water testing and other conditions.
    The project would take the best part of a decade to get to where we are from today. " KAI general manager Jim Engelke

  23. Scott Ludlam on solar

    Greens Senator Scott Ludlam says major parties are missing the point by arguing about oil and gas.

    “Western Australia’s flat topography and abundant sunshine makes it perfect for large scale solar development,” Senator Ludlum said.

    “Solar thermal plants can deliver round-the-clock electricity, and our eastern goldfields are particularly well suited to becoming a solar hub.”

    You can read his statement here:

    Gas and oil debate ignores Western Australia’s solar potential

    Australian Greens Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam. 16 August 2013.

    Debate around gas and oil development and the implications of Labor’s Northern Territory tax plan misses the main question about Western Australia’s energy future, The Greens said today.

    “While the Premier attacks the Prime Minister for supposedly threatening his gas ambitions, and Kevin Rudd talks about making Perth an oil and gas headquarters, both Labor and the Liberals are ignoring Western Australia’s huge solar potential,” said Senator for Western Australia Scott Ludlam.

    “Western Australia’s flat topography and abundant sunshine makes it perfect for large scale solar development. Solar thermal plants can deliver round-the-clock electricity, and our eastern goldfields are particularly well suited to becoming a solar hub,” said Senator Ludlam.

    Senator Ludlam’s Energy 2029 report provides the blueprint for meeting the power needs of the South West grid with 100% renewable energy by 2029. Senator Ludlam recently met with representatives of commerce and industry in Kalgoorlie to discuss the exciting opportunities presented by large-scale solar in the Greens’ Solar Goldfields plan.

    “Solar thermal power means clean energy round the clock. It means stable jobs in manufacturing, construction, and plant operation and maintenance. It means a supply of electricity that won’t wreck the environment and won’t run out.

    “While the Liberals and Labor pursue polluting, finite energy sources that divide the community and damage the environment, the technology exists to deliver clean renewable power – and The Greens have the plan to make it happen in WA.*

    “There are solar thermal plants operating around the world now that on their own can deliver the power needs of 30,000 homes during peak use. In Nevada a plant now under construction will deliver enough electricity for 75,000 homes during peak use. That’s one single power plant on its own.

    “Labor and the Liberals are missing the big picture. Instead of squabbling about onshore vs offshore gas and tax incentives, we need to see leadership on the real energy debate – how will we deliver Western Australia’s power needs without relying on polluting fossil fuels that will run out. The Greens Energy 2029 shows the way to do it, and we need to do it now.”
    - See more at:

  24. Solar funding 'to be lost under coalition'

    Australia's renewable energy industries will lose billions of dollars if the coalition wins government in September, according to confidential data.

    Analysis commissioned by The Climate Institute reveals about $4 billion in private funding would be lost to the industry, including for solar power.

    It also says the coalition's climate change plan is $4bn short of the amount needed to meet its proposed five per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, Fairfax reported on Monday.

    Instead, the private think tank's analysis suggests there would be a nine per cent increase in emissions by 2020.

    Fairfax reports big business is planning for the impact should Opposition Leader Tony Abbott cut the carbon price and axe the clean energy finance system, despite the coalition rejecting the institute's analysis.

    Carbon finance sector sources believe the loss of about $4.1bn of private funds away from large-scale renewable power projects will lead to the construction of cheap wind farms to meet mandatory renewable energy targets of 20 per cent clean power by 2020.

    It also meant gas would be another "winner", a source told Fairfax.

    "Australia's significant clean energy potential is being held back by seemingly endless rounds of review and, like the rest of the energy industry, our main need is for policy stability to drive investment in major projects," chief executive of industry group the Clean Energy Council, David Green, said.

    Mr Abbott on the weekend said spending under the coalition's "direct action" climate change plan would remain capped at $3.2bn.
    A survey by consultants AECOM of 180 leading companies found 65 per cent of businesses supported an emissions trading scheme, 29 per cent supported a carbon tax and just seven per cent of businesses supported the coalition's direct action policy.

  25. Climate of uncertainty

    About $4 billion in private funding would be sucked away from Australia's solar power and renewable energy industries over the next three years if the Coalition wins government, confidential data obtained from banks and financial analysts shows.

    The Coalition's climate change plan is also $4 billion short of the funding required to meet its promised 5 per cent cut in greenhouse emissions by 2020, and is on track for a 9 per cent increase by that date, according to analysis commissioned by The Climate Institute, an independent think tank.

    Although the Coalition rejects that analysis, big investors are planning for the impact if Opposition Leader Tony Abbott axes the carbon price and dismantles the clean energy finance system.


    They expect that about $4.1 billion in private funding would be funnelled away from large-scale renewable power, starving the sector of capital due to regulatory uncertainty and a lack of returns, according to sources in the carbon finance sector. This would likely lead to the construction of a rash of cheap wind farms after 2016, to meet the mandatory renewable energy target, which commits Australia to 20 per cent clean power by 2020.

    ''Under this scenario, the winners are probably going to be the gas guys and the wind guys. You will see a charge towards getting lots and lots of wind farms up at lowest cost because you have still got to meet the [renewable energy target],'' a source within the sector said. ''It's going to change the shape of the industry.''

    Mr Abbott said on the weekend that spending under his ''direct action'' climate change plan would remain capped at $3.2 billion, even if it meant missing the Coalition's pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 5 per cent by the year 2020.

    The Coalition climate change spokesman, Greg Hunt, said $3.2 billion allotted for ''direct action'' would be enough to meet the 5 per cent target because cutting emissions was getting cheaper.

    ''First, because of a collapse in overseas demand for our manufacturing goods our emissions task is lower,'' he said. ''Second, the available quantity of abatement is

    higher. We did not include revegetation in our initial assessments and there is significant opportunity there. Third, the likely cost is now lower than we expected.''

    The renewables sector, which now employs more people than Australia's car industry, is nervously awaiting the election result.

    ''Australia's significant clean energy potential is being held back by seemingly endless rounds of review and, like the rest of the energy industry, our main need is for policy stability to drive investment in major projects,'' said the chief executive of industry group the Clean Energy Council, David Green.

    It comes as a survey of businesses found uncertainty about the future of the carbon price has had a negative impact on more than half the responding firms.

    The survey by consultants AECOM covered 180 leading companies, firms having to pay the carbon price and members of the group Business for a Clean Economy.

    It found 65 per cent of businesses supported an emissions trading scheme, while 29 per cent supported a carbon tax. Just 7 per cent of businesses supported the Coalition's direct action policy.

    The Business for a Clean Economy group - which was set up to endorse carbon pricing - includes energy giant AGL, furniture retailer IKEA, Westpac and multi-national Unilever.

    A spokesman for the group, Andrew Petersen, said: ''While businesses across all sectors are getting on with the job of transitioning to a clean economy, substantial investment is being delayed due to the uncertainty around retention of the carbon price."

  26. Contamination bill stalls BHP sale

    by: Andrew Burrell
    From: The Australian
    August 19, 2013 12:00AM

    BHP Billiton is exploring the potential sale of its old Mount Goldsworthy iron ore project in the Pilbara to a company that plans to reopen the mine, but the deal could be stymied by revelations that BHP faces a potential $100 million clean-up bill after the discovery of acid contamination at the site.

    Documents obtained by The Australian show BHP has held confidential talks with private company Nimbus Mines as part of a deal in which Nimbus would reopen Mount Goldsworthy -- once a jewel in BHP's Pilbara crown -- as an underground mine.


    Australia: Shell takes Finder Browse basin farmout

    HOUSTON, Aug. 16


    By OGJ editors

    Shell Development (Australia) Pty. Ltd. will earn a 50% interest in and become operator of the AC/P 52 permit in the northern Browse basin offshore Western Australia under a farmout from Finder Exploration Pty. Ltd., private Perth independent.

    Shell will earn its interest through cash payments and funding a percentage of drilling costs of the Cronus-1 exploratory well up to an agreed cap. Shell is to drill the well in 2015.

    Cronus, north of and along trend with Poseidon, Ichthys, and Prelude gas fields, is a multi-tcf gas prospect that was matured using the Cartier West multiclient 3D seismic data set. Finder said it sees multiple potential routes to commercialization if Cronus were successful.

    Assuming receipt of various government approvals, AC/P 52 permit interests would be Shell 50%, Sasol Australia Petroleum Ltd. 30%, and Finder 20%.

  27. Europe's forests nearing carbon saturation, study finds

    The ability of Europe's aging forests to absorb carbon dioxide is heading towards saturation point, threatening one of the continent's main defences against global warming, a study showed on Sunday.

    Forests from Spain to Sweden are getting older, packed with trees less good at soaking up the emissions blamed for rising world temperatures, mounting sea levels and increasing numbers of heatwaves and floods, experts said.

    Trees are being threatened by more fires, storms and insect attacks, said the study published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

    Some parts of the continent have also started cutting down some forests, it added.


    That all meant Europe should no longer assume its forests would be able to continue absorbing carbon emissions from factories, power plants and cars, at the same rate, it added. Forests currently soak up about 10 per cent of Europe's emissions.

    "These regrowing forests have shown to be a persistent carbon sink, projected to continue for decades, however, there are early signs of saturation. Forest policies and management strategies need revision if we want to sustain the sink," the Nature Climate Change report said.

    Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggested saturation point could be reached by around 2030 unless governments took action, said Gert-Jan Nabuurs, of Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands, who led the study with experts in Finland, Switzerland and Italy.

    Green Europe

    Europe is in its greenest state for centuries, with forests probably covering the largest area since Medieval times - largely thanks to a rush of planting to rebuild the continent after the ravages of World War Two, said the report.

    But data since 2005 showed the growth of those forests was now slowing as their trees got older.

    Trees absorb the gas from the air and build it into their trunks, roots and branches as carbon. They lessen their absorbtion as they grow older and release the stored carbon when they die and rot.

    Manmade emissions of carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping gas that is released by burning fossil fuels, are very likely to be the main cause of rising temperatures since 1950, a U.N. panel of climate experts says.

    Better management could help avert the problem of Europe's aging forests, Nabuurs said. The authors also recommended selective harvesting and more new forests.

    Annemarie Bastrup-Birk, a forestry expert who works at the European Environment Agency in Copenhagen who was also an author of that report, said the decline in forest growth was mainly in France and Germany with continued gains elsewhere.

    "It's still very regional," she told Reuters, warning that the Nature Climate Change study might be premature in raising concerns about a continent-wide problem.

    The European Union plans to cut its overall greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 as part of international efforts to slow global warming. Each nation can count the uptake of carbon in forests towards the total.

    An international report on the state of Europe's forests in 2011 said the net annual increase in living tree wood in the European Union slowed to 609 million cubic metres in 2010 from 620 million in 2005.

  28. Looking at these headlines makes me think just how important todays decision is.


    Fortescue's Forrest to help Abbott on indigenous jobs

    FORTESCUE Metals Group chairman Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest will chair a review of indigenous employment programs if the Coalition wins the September 7 poll.


    Greens attack Labor's oil and gas plans for WA

    If elected, Labor would also set up an Oil and Gas Innovation Partnership to bring together businesses and researchers.

    But Mr Ludlam says the focus should be on tapping into renewable energy.

    "The Prime Minister and other eastern state's politicians seems to view Western Australia as nothing more than a lucrative hole in the ground," he said.


    Argus and Teele, two 'grumpy old men', explain how we messed up the boom


    Cooling boom helping Santos cut LNG costs


    Marine mammals under threat from climate change

    CLIMATE change will threaten the survival of marine mammals according to researchers investigating the impact of rising air and sea surface temperatures on Australia’s ocean dwelling mammals.

    They warn an increase in dugong mass-strandings could be among the consequences of climate change, in addition to reduced habitats and breeding success.

    Their report, Impacts of climate change on Australian Marine Mammals appears in CSIRO’s Australian Journal of Zoology.

    The research describes Australia as a ‘hotspot’ for marine mammals with 52 species. Two; the Australian sea lion and Burrunan Dolphin are endemic to Australia.

    But it says air and sea surface temperatures around Australia have accelerated from the mid-20th Century and predictions are that the greatest rates of future sea surface temperatures warming will be in north-western and south-eastern Australia.

    Deakin University’s Nicole Schumann says the most recent paper is based on CSIRO’s 2012 National Marine Report Card for Australia, which demonstrated climate change was having a significant impact on Australia’s marine ecosystem.

    It is a synthesis of available information on the relationships between distribution and populations of marine animals and climate mediated oceanographic processes.

    That information includes past WA research in into Shark Bay’s dugong and Ningaloo’s dolphin populations.

    The paper says the potential for climate change to produce shifts in marine mammal distribution is of particular concern.

    “As distributions shift the dynamics between species, for example competition for food resources, may change and populations may be exposed to new diseases to which they may have no resistance as they come into contact with populations they were previously isolated from,” Ms Schumann says.

    In addition, shifting ocean currents like the East Australian Current and the west coast’s Leeuwin Current could reduce fish prey.

    The research concludes the capacity of marine animals to survive may depend in part on their ability to alter their diet and foraging behaviours.

    In addition, it says more research needs to be done to understand how marine mammals will adapt to climate change, their capacity to do so and whether some groups are more vulnerable than others.

    “The important thing overall is to protect critical habitats though for many species, doing this requires more research into their ecology and habitats,” Ms Schumann says.

  29. Cracks appear as credit crisis bites

    As the Chinese economy boomed, few cities soared faster or higher than Shenmu, a community of nearly 500,000 in the northwest.

    Top luxury clothing stores in this city's downtown were recording as much as $US500,000 ($545,130) a day in sales. Tables at the best restaurants had to be reserved weeks in advance. The new Fortune Garden Club for the business elite made headlines by paying $US1 million for a king-size mahogany bed, to be used by members and their companions.

    But a painful credit crisis is now spreading across Shenmu and cities nearby, as thousands of businesses have closed, fleets of BMWs and Audis have been repossessed and street protests have erupted.

    Now the leading purveyors of Western fashions are deserted, monthly sales at restaurants are down as much as 97 per cent and the marble entrance to the Fortune Garden Club is shuttered. All but one of the city's car dealerships have failed. The owner of the city's largest jewellery store was detained by the authorities a week ago after creditors found him secretly packing millions of dollars' worth of gold and jewels into cases and accused him of preparing to flee the city without settling his debts. A top restaurant closed a day earlier, and its owner left town, as have the founder of the Fortune Garden and many other executives.


    ''It's an economic crisis just like the US has had; just like it,'' said Wang Ting, an operator of an illegal casino in Fugu, near Shenmu. ''There's no cash, everyone stays home without a job, there's no way the economy can recover.''

    Shenmu, and nearby cities like Ordos and Fugu, are at the leading edge of broader troubles that are beginning to afflict the entire Chinese economy.

    Across China, growth has slowed. With the slowdown have come rising defaults on loans made outside the conventional banking system, chronic overcapacity in industries like coal mining and steel production and, in particularly troubled cities like Shenmu, a sharp decline in previously debt-fuelled prices for real estate and other assets.

    The cracks are showing in many sizeable cities like coastal Wenzhou, where informal lending, a big part of so-called shadow banking, has dominated for 25 years. Cities with economies linked to commodities with falling prices have also been affected, as more people defaulted on loans. The biggest, most economically diverse metropolitan areas like Beijing and Shanghai seem less affected, but also have many small and medium-sized businesses that depend on informal lending.

    Lending has collapsed in northern Shaanxi province, where it had been particularly speculative and frenzied, and where the coal industry has also been crippled by steeply falling prices.


  30. Cracks appear....cont....

    As some borrowers began defaulting early this year, worried lenders in the informal sector raised interest rates for small and medium-size businesses, previously 25 to 40 per cent a year, to as much as 125 per cent a year. The increase set off a much broader wave of defaults in recent weeks, as owners found themselves unable to repay billions of dollars in bad debts, many of them handwritten and hard to enforce in court.

    ''Almost no one will give you a loan,'' said a construction executive who gave only his surname, Xie, as he stood outside a project that had been halted.

    Although changes are being slowly introduced, state-owned banks have long been allowed to lend only at low, regulated rates barely above the inflation rate, with the total value of loans controlled by quarterly quotas. All over China, these loans go overwhelmingly to large state-owned businesses, government officials and politically connected individuals, who then re-lend the money at much higher interest rates to small and medium-size businesses in the private sector.

    The Chinese are finding it harder to repay loans because the economy is slowing. Most analyses of China's economy look only at the real growth rate, about 7.5 per cent this year. But for companies' sales and profits, which determine their ability to repay debts, what really matters is the nominal growth rate, which is real economic growth plus inflation.

    Private sector businesses could afford to borrow at double-digit interest rates because nominal growth at 16 to 23 per cent a year from 2004 through 2011 exceeded the rates. But nominal growth slowed last year to 9.8 per cent and then fell again in the first half of this year, to 8.8 per cent.

    The popping of the real estate bubble has been the most serious blow to the economy. Real estate prices had soared in cities across China. In Shenmu, 100 square metre apartments that sold for less than $US20,000 a decade ago reached $US330,000 by last northern hemisphere winter. Real estate brokers say they are advising sellers to avoid price cuts of more than 10 per cent. But business owners who buy and sell apartments say deals are now being done for as little as $US115,000, a decline of 65 per cent.

    Public discontent is fuelling street protests. Several thousand residents turned out last month for a demonstration, demanding that municipal officials revive the stalled economy.

    Recently, a smaller group of migrant workers protested, demanding the local government pay their back wages after construction was halted on a row of apartment buildings. Yet a Shenmu merchant said he had sympathy for officials, who even put up banners last year warning residents of the dangers of participating in informal lending schemes.

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