Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Team Australian Greens is growing | Bob Brown | Comment is free |

Team Australian Greens is growing | Bob Brown | Comment is free |

25 Aug 2013, Australia --- Camberwell, Australia. 25th August 2013 -- Helen McLeod, the Greens party candidate for the seat of Kooyong hands out election materials ahead of the Australian federal election. -- Helen McLeod, the Greens party candidate for the seat of Kooyong was out lobbying as she distibuted election materials ahead of the Australian federal election on 7th September, 2013. --- Image by   Sydney Low/Demotix/Corbis Asia Australasia Australia British Isles Camberwell candidate election England Europe Great Britain Inner London landscape London Oceania politician politics Southwark UK Western Europe
'The Milne-Bandt Greens team will use the Senate's constitutional powers to act as a moderator on the most right-wing government in living memory'. Photograph: Sydney Low/Demotix/Corbis
The new parliament will have more Greens, and more parties, than ever before. It will test the patience of the press gallery which lives for the simplicity of two-party politics and the jousting of personalities above the contest of ideas for Australia's future.
The Milne-Bandt Greens team of 11 will be the largest of any third party since 1923. It will use the Senate's constitutional powers to act as a moderator in the most right-wing government in living memory. And Abbott, who has made a virtue out of refusing to negotiate with independents and "minor" parties, will knuckle down to dealing history's most diverse polyglot of parties in the Senate.
For its part the press gallery, which lives for two party simplicity, faces the same large contingent of political parties. It may find itself pining for the days when it thought the Greens and a handful of independents was a bothersome aberration.


  1. With more government managers receiving pay rises close to $30,000 a year this week - what else is happening to "our boom state"?


    Aboriginal pastoral workers seeking compensation for years of unpaid labour

    Aboriginal workers have played a key role in establishing Western Australia's pastoral and agricultural industries.

    But until the 1970s, those working on pastoral stations were treated as little more than slaves.

    They worked from dawn till dusk in extremely harsh conditions for little or no pay.

    But a State Government stolen wages scheme designed to right the wrongs of the past has excluded pastoral workers.

    This week dozens of respected elders met in Kununurra to voice their anger and disappointment with the Government.

    They say it owes them a huge debt and it's time to pay up.

    Years of injustice

    Retired stockman Ben Barney was rarely paid for his work on missions and stations around WA's Kimberley region and the Northern Territory.

    "There were no wages there. We were just working for tea and sugar and tobacco, shirt, trousers, swag," he said.

    "I have to watch the cattle all day and put them in a paddock.

    "(It was) hard work mate, I have to get up three o-clock in the morning and I was only 13, 14, just a young fella.

    "I don't get up early in the morning, Jesus Christ, I had the stockmen put a whip around my back or get a bullshrub round my back and I have to do the work."

    People working on stations had their wages set by pastoralists, rather than the state.

    Anxious to keep the politically powerful landowners on side, the government of the time turned a blind eye to the wage arrangements and conditions.

    Tom Birch is the deputy chair of the Kimberley Land Council but he was once a talented stockman.

    "I can recall getting trousers and shirt but I don't recall if I was getting any (money) at all," he said.

    Many other workers toiled on vast government-run missions in the Pilbara, Murchison and South West.

    They got paid, but up to three quarters of their wages were taken and put into government trust accounts for safekeeping.

    When the Commonwealth started paying Aboriginal people welfare entitlements, the state took those too.

    Most never saw the money again.

    Sisters Peggy Griffiths and Rosie Gallagher lived and worked on missions and stations.

    "We just worked for lollies and cakes," Rosie said.

    Peggy says the sisters didn't ask for money because they didn't know they were supposed to get any.


  2. "our boom state" ....cont....


    Aboriginal pastoral workers seeking compensation for years of unpaid labour

    Making Amends

    Last year the State Government invited Aboriginal people, who had their income controlled on government-run settlements between 1905 and 1972, to apply for a $2000 ex-gratia payment.

    Those who worked on pastoral stations were excluded from the stolen wages scheme because the state didn't directly control their wages.

    Just over 2000 people applied for the payment but 700 were knocked back.

    Labor's Aboriginal Affairs spokesman Ben Wyatt says the Government deserves credit for taking action on the issue but went about it in the wrong way.

    "Whilst it was designed by the Government to bring closure to what is a very vexed period in WA's history, it has had actually had the reverse affect," he said.

    Mr Wyatt says those who received the payments were not told why or given an apology.

    Likewise, those who were rejected were not given specific details.

    "What you have now is confusion and anger, (people are saying) 'Why have you been paid, why have I not been paid? I'm just as entitled because I had my wages stolen too'," Mr Wyatt said.

    The Aboriginal Affairs Minister Peter Collier is sticking by his decision to exclude pastoral workers, saying he's simply following the recommendations of a 2008 taskforce report on the issue.

    "We have certainly adhered to the recommendations of the taskforce in terms of acknowledging the fact that wages were removed from Aboriginal people in government facilities," he said.

    "We have righted that wrong, we have acknowledged the fact that wages were taken and they weren't returned.

    "The Government cannot be responsible for wages of Aboriginal people who were not in Government facilities."

    Kununurra-based solicitor Judy Harrison has taken the fight up on behalf of pastoral workers in the East Kimberley.

    She says the Minister can't ignore the role that previous governments played in the exploitation of Aboriginal people.

    "The government (of the time)...authorised and approved certain stations to have a certain number of Aboriginal workers on the basis that they receive certain conditions," she said.

    "So the government has participated in the conditions that the stations provided.

    "Aboriginal people frequently make the point that they believe the pastoral stations wouldn't exist in the current state, apart from the labour they contributed," she said.

    "They feel very proud about their working lives on stations and it's part of who they are."

    She says the workers want recognition of their contribution to the pastoral industry and an apology for what they had to endure.

    But neither of those things have been achieved through the stolen wages scheme.


  3. "our boom state" ....cont....


    Aboriginal pastoral workers seeking compensation for years of unpaid labour

    Saying sorry

    Money aside, the workers say a formal apology from the Minister would go a long way towards making amends.

    Indeed, the 2008 report recommended the current Government issue a formal apology to workers whose money was withheld by the state.

    It also recommended setting up a $2.5 million fund to encourage economic growth in their communities.

    But five years on, neither of these have happened and Mr Collier has ruled out a formal apology.

    "I'm sorry if they do feel that way and it certainly wasn't the intent of the exercise. The intent was quite clearly to right a wrong," he said.

    "I mean inevitably you're going to have some people that are disaffected and disappointed."

    Retired stockman Tom Birch says that's an understatement.

    "Well you look at the hours you put in, the days you work, day and night...and $2000 doesn't even cut it at all. That's the bottom line," he said.

    "I think the Government should look at it and say well, see what benefit we can do for the community and help the old people that are living in these communities."

    While no amount of money would full compensate for the lost wages and treatment at the time, Mr Wyatt say recognition - and an apology - would be priceless.

    "It's important to really emphasise the fact that this is not an issue of symbolism," he said.

    "These are people who worked and had their wages taken from them under policy set by the government at that time.

    "Now we have the chance to reconsider to station workers and I'd like to think perhaps the station industry can come on board with this in a celebration or acknowledgment of the work that was done."

    He'd also like to see the Government release documents relating to wage arrangements so those who want to pursue legal action have the information they need.

    Judy Harrison has called on the Government to negotiate a new reparation scheme with the workers.

    "It is for the Government to talk to Aboriginal people to find a figure or to find a package, so it may not be money at all," she said.

    "It's to find a combination that is acceptable and which Aboriginal people are willing to receive, and the Government might be very surprised by what it can achieve by collaborating with Aboriginal people."

    The retired workers are reluctant to pursue legal action but they haven't ruled it out.

  4. Environmental Protection Authority recommends approval of contentious Roe Highway extension

    The Environmental Protection Authority has recommended conditional approval for a five kilometre extension of Roe Highway.

    Main Roads WA wants to extend the highway from Kwinana Freeway in Jandakot to Stock Road in Coolbellup.

    The proposal is located mainly within a road reserve, originally set aside 50 years ago.

    The EPA says the proposal attracted more than 3,200 submissions and most were opposed to the extension.

    The EPA Chairman Paul Vogel says strategies to mitigate impacts on the environment were crucial.



    Key WA road plans fall with Labor

    Mr Buswell said it was a huge issue for regional WA but if the Commonwealth stepped away from those projects it was highly likely "the projects will cease". That's a big problem," he said.



    State stalls in school results

    .....Education Minister Peter Collier said that progress had been minimal. "While I have not had the opportunity to thoroughly assess the results, my early observation is that there has been little movement in a number of categories," he said.

    .....Shadow education minister Sue Ellery said the Barnett Government should not be cutting funding to literacy and numeracy programs if NAPLAN results were not improving across the board.


    It would be fair to say the lions share of everything is/will be going to the richest mining companies on earth - who are too broke to pay their fair share of course - both state and federal now!


    1. Any conflicts of interest ?

      Anger over Roe Highway approval

      Environmentalists are preparing to step-up their fight against the Roe Highway extension after the Environmental Protection Authority gave the project conditional approval.

      The EPA's chairman Paul Vogel says the extension from Jandakot to Coolbelup can go ahead, but will need to comply with strict conditions.

      He says it will go through land that has been set aside for a long time.

      "This proposal won't require resumption of land, it's entirely within the road reserve established in 1963.

      But environmentalists are concerned about the impact on wetlands.

      Greens MP Lynn MacLaren says she has been taking calls from people who are prepared to take direct action.

      She says building more roads does not lead to less congestion.

      "If you double stack and put more freight on to rail, you will reduce the need for so many roads," she said.

      Labor's Transport Spokesman, Ken Travers says the proposal is too costly and has called on the State Government to dump it.

      "There are many projects that will deliver greater benefits in easing congestion and dealing with the transport issues facing Perth than Roe Highway," he said.

      "It is the most expensive road that will ever be built in Western Australia on a per-kilometre basis and it simply does not provide the benefits in terms of easing congestion or to the economy.

      "This road will damage the environment but will not deliver any real economic benefits to Western Australia or reduce congestion in the southern suburbs.

      There is a two week period for appeals to be lodged against the EPA's decision.

  5. This is getting interesting!


    Woodside obliged to pay says ex-CEO

    FORMER Woodside Petroleum chief executive Don Voelte says the company should honour the $1.5 billion compensation package pledged to indigenous communities as part of its ill-fated James Price Point liquefied natural gas proposal, contradicting the company's decision to tear up the landmark agreement.

    In an exclusive interview with The Weekend Australian, Mr Voelte said he understood the decision to abandon the plan to process gas from Woodside's Browse gas fields through James Price Point in favour of a floating LNG development, but was worried about Woodside's moves to abandon the native title agreement.

    "The only area I am concerned about is the agreement with the Aboriginals," Mr Voelte said.

    "I still think that when Browse gets developed, that agreement should be honoured."

    Since announcing in April that it had scrapped the proposal for a $40bn-plus plant, Woodside has made it clear it would not follow through with the commitments it made under Mr Voelte's leadership back in 2011.

    Those agreements were set to see local indigenous communities collect an estimated $1.5bn over the project's estimated 30-year life, with the deal described at the time as Australia's most significant native title agreement. This week, Woodside formally withdrew from the agreement.

    Mr Voelte -- who today is the chief executive of media and mining equipment conglomerate Seven Group and the chairman of small oil and gas company Nexus Energy -- said the intent of the compensation package was always about sharing the rewards of the gas development rather than paying them for the land that now won't be used as a result of FLNG.

    "I hope that those agreements are respected and honoured," he said. "And as far as I know, the absolute intent, whether written or not, was always about the production of the gas."

    Speaking to media earlier this year after the plan was shelved, Mr Voelte's successor at Woodside, Peter Coleman, made it clear that the compensation package was dependent on an LNG plant being built at the site, 60km north of Broome in Western Australia's Kimberley region. "The agreement was very clear, it was (dependent) upon a successful final investment decision at James Price Point," he said at the time.

    He also noted there had been disputes between two indigenous groups over the agreement. "So we don't expect to be making any payments to anyone," he said.

    The comments from Mr Voelte will add weight to arguments from traditional owners that Woodside and its partners had a moral obligation to deliver the benefits outlined in the agreement, regardless of the means through which the Browse gas is processed.

  6. Voelte changes tune on Browse FLNG plan

    FORMER Woodside Petroleum chief executive Don Voelte says he now accepts and endorses Woodside's plan to process the massive Browse gasfields through revolutionary floating liquefied natural gas technology.

    In an exclusive interview with The Weekend Australian, Mr Voelte -- who lobbied intensely to see Browse processed through an onshore LNG plant on Western Australia's northwest coast -- revealed for the first time that he had reconsidered his position and now believed FLNG technology was the best mode of development for the project.


    Mundine to put need first in funds review

    THE prime ministerial indigenous advisory council will conduct a review of all funding in the portfolio to create a "needs-based" model to deliver value for the billions of dollars spent on the nation's most impoverished people.

    The council, headed by former ALP president Warren Mundine, will soon receive its full terms of reference.


    "Everyone has been complaining . . . the territory governments and the state governments have been complaining about this as well as the federal government. It is about outcomes and that is what we want to focus on, we just want to focus on outcomes and that is how we are going to work with everyone in this space."

    The Australian revealed this week that former head of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet Peter Shergold will take one of the five seats on the council. Dr Shergold will use his strong working knowledge of how departments have delivered indigenous programs to overhaul failing systems.

    Dumped Northern Territory minister Alison Anderson will not be on the council, despite her strong relationship with Tony Abbott, who has created the advisory council.

    Mr Mundine revealed that he had already started conversations with the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service, the National Congress of Australia's First Peoples and state and territory governments.


    Total direct indigenous expenditure in 2010-11 was estimated to be $25.4bn, accounting for 5.6 per cent of total direct general government expenditure.

    Indigenous Australians make up 2.6 per cent of the population. The federal government accounted for $11.5bn (45 per cent) of direct indigenous expenditure, with the remaining $13.9bn provided by state and territory governments.

    Mainstream services accounted for $19.9bn (78 per cent) of direct indigenous expenditure, with the remaining $5.5bn being provided through indigenous-specific services.


    It would be fair to say that putting this much money into anything - even a space program - would show results.

    Obviously the "Aboriginal Industry" is in full swing especially in the NT where it has been said for donkeys years if the black fellas left 3 out of 4 white fellas would be out of work.

    "Not enough penthouses in Alice..." ....etc...


  7. At least all things LNG seem to be going the NT's way.....maybe they should build a few gas plants for the indig to get jobs in....

    $25 billion a year!


    Magellan Signs Dingo Gas Sale Contract, Australia

    Magellan Petroleum announced that on Thursday, the company through its indirect subsidiary, Magellan Petroleum Corporation (NT) Pty Ltd (MPNT), signed a gas supply and purchase agreement with Northern Territory Power and Water Corporation (PWC) for the long-term sale of gas from the company’s Dingo gas field.


    J. Thomas Wilson, President and CEO of Magellan, stated,.....“We believe we have now achieved the key milestones of our strategy for our Amadeus Basin assets, onshore Australia: we completed an asset swap with Santos in September 2011 to consolidate our interests in Palm Valley and Dingo and received $25 million in cash, we contracted most of Palm Valley’s remaining gas reserves to Santos in September 2011 under a long-term contract, and now we have contracted up to 30 Bcf of Dingo’s gas reserves with PWC. Following on the Company’s initiation of the CO2-EOR pilot program at Poplar announced on August 12, 2013, we remain focused on executing the other key milestones of our strategy to increase net asset value per share.”


    Niger delta oil spill victims reject 'derisory' Shell compensation offer

    London court may now decide how much firm should pay 11,000 fishermen and others who lost incomes when pipeline burst


    A lovely photo of "Dying mangrove swamps coated with oil in Bodo, Nigeria. Photograph: Noah Payne-Frank"

    go to :


    Niger delta communities devastated by giant oil spills from rusting Shell pipelines have unanimously rejected a compensation offer from the company, calling it an insult, and cruel and derisory.

    A court in London is now likely to decide how much the Anglo-Dutch firm should pay 11,000 fishermen and others from the Bodo community who lost their livelihoods when the 50-year-old Shell-operated trans-Niger pipeline burst twice within a few months in 2008.

    Sources close to the negotiations in Port Harcourt this week suggest Shell offered the communities £30m, or around £1,100 for each person affected. Martyn Day, a partner with the UK law firm Leigh Day who represented the those communities, said Shell's offer was rejected unanimously at a large public meeting in Bodo.

    "The amount offered for most claimants equated to two to three years' net lost earnings whereas the Bodo creek has already been out of action for five years and it may well be another 20-25 before it is up and running properly again. I was not at all surprised to see the community walk out of the talks once they heard what Shell were offering."

    On Friday the full scale of the spills could be seen from the air with over 75 sq km of mangrove forests, creeks, swamps and channels thick with crude oil. Estimates of how much oil was spilled ranged from around 4,000 barrels to more than 300,000. Communities this week reported that no cleanup had been done and that water wells were still polluted.

    Five years after the spills the creeks and waterways around Bodo have an apocalyptic feel. The air stinks of crude, long slicks of oil drift in and out of the blackened, dying mangrove swamps and a sheen of oil covers the tidal mudflats.

    "It's everywhere. The wind blows the oil on our vegetable crops, our food tastes of oil, our children are sick and we get skin rashes. Life here has stopped," said Barilido, a fisherman reduced to collecting wood.


  8. Niger delta oil spill victims reject 'derisory' Shell compensation offer


    ....A spokesman said: "We took part in this week's settlement negotiations with two objectives – to make a generous offer of compensation to those who have suffered hardship as a result of the two highly regrettable operational spills in 2008, and to make progress in relation to cleanup."

    The firm said it was disappointing that a deal had not been reached, but added that progress had been made over the cleanup process. Shell, which works in a partnership with the Nigerian government, had maintained that it had not been able to clean up the spills because the affected Ogoniland communities had insisted on getting compensation first and would not allow it access to the affected areas.

    The spokesman added: "The success of any interim measures and final remediation depends on the cessation of oil theft and illegal refining in the area, which reimpacts the environment and remains the cause of most oil pollution in the Niger delta."

    Philip Mshelbila, Shell Nigeria's head of communications, said: "One positive from the talks is that the Bodo community has indicated that the cleanup needs to start as soon as possible. I understand that an offer was put. We are very willing to take part in talks about the cleanup."


    It emerged this week that Shell had offered the communities only £4,000 shortly after the two spills occurred in 2008-9. "Shell continue to treat the people of Bodo with the same contempt as they did from the start when they tried in 2009 to buy us off by offering the community the total sum of £4,000 to settle the claims," said Chief Kogbara, chairman of the Bodo council .

    "We told them in 2009 the people of Bodo are a proud and fiercely determined community. Our habitat and income have been destroyed by Shell oil. The claim against Shell will not resolve until they recognise this and pay us fully and fairly for what they have done."

    Chief Tal Kottee, Bodo elected regent, said: "We had been expecting a good settlement from Shell. Our livelihoods here have been totally destroyed. It's an outrage that it has taken so long for a cleanup and to get compensation."

    Chief Patrick Porobunu, leader of a Bodo fishing community, said: "Shell is cruel, very wicked. It has given us nothing again. People here are very angry. All we have is poverty because of Shell. We have no electricity, no health. Our suffering goes on."

    International and regional groups condemned Shell, which is the largest firm on the London stock exchange with a market capitalisation of £141bn, for what they called its "meanness". They accused Shell of financial racism and applying different standards to cleanups in Nigeria compared with the rest of the world.

    "Is it because we are Nigerian and poor that they offer so little for the damage they have caused?" said one fisherman at the Bodo meeting. "This would be different in the US or London." Another added: "Crude is the same in every country. Does the black man not also have red blood?"

    "It is a big shame on Shell that they are unwilling to pay a fraction of their profit as compensation after subjecting the people and the environment to such unthinkable harm they would not dare allow in their home country," said the Nigerian environmentalist and chair of Oilwatch International, Nnimmo Bassey.

    Pastor Christian, a former fisherman from Bodo, said: "If the money had come, then people would have been able to restart their businesses. I lost everything in the pollution. Now nothing will change and poverty will only increase. This offer was derisory. We don't want our children to suffer again like we did."

  9. BUT it seems gas buyers can't get far enough away from WA - especially Gorgon.

    (Worth noting here that if Woodside had gone ahead at JPP it would have sold NO gas from the plant as the price would have surpassed even Gorgons!)


    Japanese finance accord with Alaska could see underpinning of $65Bln LNG project

    Friday, 13 September 2013

    Japan has won first mover status in the planned South Central Alaska LNG project after the signing of an agreement in Tokyo between the state-run Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) and the Alaska Department of Natural Resources that could see the Japanese underpin the financing of the Alaskan venture with an estimated cost of $65 billion.


    Qatar feeling the price pinch.

    Qatari Energy Minister Calls for Cooperation to Encourage Stable LNG Market Environment

    ....Al-Sada presented a comprehensive overview of the three regions and the developments that have characterized them. He noted the American market’s shift from coal to shale gas in power generation, driving both prices and CO2 emissions down.

    “Ironically, while natural gas led the U.S. to record the world’s largest decline in coal consumption, excess American coal production was finding its way across the Atlantic. Europe’s coal imports jumped 23% in 2012, as many utilities across the continent shut down their modern gas-fired plants and began burning cheaper coal instead. This does not reflect very well on Europe’s declared strategic priorities vis-a-vis climate change, and the reduction of CO2 and other harmful gas emissions,” he said.


    The Minister concluded his remarks by paying tribute to four decades of diplomatic ties between Qatar and Japan, which Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of the State of Qatar, is keen to develop, and which was built on mutual cooperation, friendship, trust and support.

    He said “Japan is Qatar’s largest trading partner, with a total trade volume exceeding 37 billion U.S. dollars in 2012. Qatar is Japan’s second largest LNG supplier and is Japan’s third largest crude oil supplier.”


    WHAT a shame - oil oil everywhere....but not a drop more can we burn...

    Wood Mackenzie: 1.4 Trillion BOE in Global Undeveloped Reserves

    Around the globe there are nearly 1.4 trillion barrels of oil equivalent (boe) reserves in conventional undeveloped oil and gas fields according to Wood Mackenzie’s latest upstream outlook. This includes nearly 1.1 trillion boe of “technical reserves” – a term Wood Mackenzie uses for reserves for which there are no firm development plans in place.

    “Over half of these discoveries which we classify as ‘good technicals’, are potentially economic under our current price assumptions. These have an indicative collective value of ca. US$760 billion” explains David Highton, Principal Analyst of Upstream Research at Wood Mackenzie.

    According to Wood Mackenzie’s outlook, there is vast potential value from good technical fields across the World:
    ◾Middle East = US$185 billion
    ◾Latin America = US$149 billion
    ◾North America = US$132 billion
    ◾Africa = US$125 billion
    ◾Russia & Caspian = US$78 billion
    ◾Asia Pacific = US$67 billion
    ◾Europe = US$24 billion


  10. The madness of Wood Mackenzie .....cont...

    The region with the most valuable portfolio of good technicals overall is the Middle East, followed closely by Latin America and North America. “The massive undeveloped resources of the Middle East (367 bnboe) lead the way,” notes Highton. “These include the undeveloped volumes in the super-giant North/South Pars gas field which extends between Qatar and Iran in the Persian Gulf. Combining both countries’ share, this is the largest single technical reserve in the world.”

    Wood Mackenzie notes that depending on their current strategies, international oil companies may focus on regions with high resource volumes or high unit values – there are few countries where these circumstances occur together, and generally that situation doesn’t last for long. “Regions with the largest volumes of ‘good technicals’ are often those where access is difficult or impossible for international oil companies, such as parts of the Middle East, Russia or Latin America,” says Highton.

    There are also around 300 billion boe of undeveloped commercial reserves which should be brought onstream in the next ten years or so according to Wood Mackenzie’s outlook.

    Looking at hydrocarbon type, Wood Mackenzie notes that the undeveloped commercial reserves are weighted towards gas (60:40), while technical reserves comprise slightly more liquids (55:45). Significant regional variations exist however – Asia-Pacific is gas dominated (85 percent) due to the huge gas discoveries offshore Australia and elsewhere, while both North and Latin America are oil-dominated (each circa. 90 percent) due to their world-scale undeveloped Canadian and Venezuelan oil sands and heavy oil deposits.

    According to Wood Mackenzie, commercialising the unfulfilled potential of undeveloped discoveries will not be easy. “There are a number of obstacles and complexities which continue to hamper efforts to tap into the US$760 billion prize” notes Highton. “These could be the lack of accessible markets or available infrastructure, political or environmental issues, operator constraints, or simply low resource volumes for the particular location.”

    Technical fields face a range of challenges but are a key component of many company portfolios and a key opportunity set for companies looking to expand. With sustained high oil and gas prices, advances in technology and stiff competition for quality opportunities, companies are looking to exploit the unfulfilled potential of these undeveloped resources.

    Highton concludes, “Today, many obstacles are simply beyond the influence of any one company. It will require investment, technical expertise, patience and diligence, by companies of all sizes, to overcome the challenges”.

  11. BP Drills at 'Giant' Gulf Field after Setback Due to Spill

    HOUSTON, Sept 12 (Reuters) - BP Plc has begun appraisal drilling in its highly touted Tiber oil prospect in the Gulf of Mexico, the company said on Thursday, more than three years after its massive Macondo blowout and crude spill set back drilling in the basin.

    BP confirmed that drilling began on Aug. 3. ConocoPhillips Chief Executive Ryan Lance disclosed it to analysts during a webcast presentation at the Barclays Energy-Power Conference in New York. ConocoPhillips is a minority partner in Tiber.

    "We are appraising the Tiber discovery which was made pre-incident in the Gulf of Mexico," Lance said, referring to BP's 2010 Macondo oil spill that spewed millions of barrels of crude into the Gulf and prompted a six-month drilling shutdown by the U.S. government.

    In 2009, BP touted what it called a "giant" oil discovery in the Tiber field next to its Kaskida field that could hold up to 3 billion barrels of oil.

    Both fields are in the Lower Tertiary trend, the Gulf's deepest, most challenging and most promising deposit that is estimated to hold up to 15 billion barrels of oil.

    BP had planned in 2010 to drill appraisal wells in the Tiber field to help gauge how much oil was there. The company's Macondo rupture and spill prompted the shutdown that delayed those plans as well as drilling by other Gulf oil producers.

    That drilling plan resumed last month with the start of the new well in Tiber. BP had already begun exploratory drilling at another prospect near Tiber, called Gila, and that work is continuing.

    BP owns the most leases in the Gulf and holding them gives producers the right to drill. The company also is the second-largest oil producer in the basin, behind Royal Dutch Shell.

    BP's biggest new oil project in the Gulf, the Mad Dog Phase 2 development of its Mad Dog field, remains under review because of rising costs from industry inflation, spokesman Brett Clanton said on Thursday.

    Rising costs had made the 2013 plan for Mad Dog Phase 2 less attractive than previously planned. BP calls Mad Dog 2 a "mega project," meaning it requires a gross investment of more than $10 billion.

    BP already operates an oil and gas platform at its original Mad Dog development that can produce up to 80,000 barrels per day of oil and 60 million cubic feet per day of natural gas.

  12. Myanmar’s energy woes could be solved by LNG projects under current plans

    Myanmar’s recent emergence from sanction-driven isolation has attracted attention from all over the world, including energy-hungry investors, and could see an LNG export project back on the agenda similar to one backed by Japan and South Korea but cancelled in 2007.


    California Dreaming just got a wee bit more nightmarish...

    Brown Says He’ll Sign California Bill Regulating Fracking

    California Governor Jerry Brown said he’ll approve regulations for hydraulic fracturing criticized by environmental groups as the state prepares for development of the largest shale-oil reserves in the U.S.

    The third-largest oil-producing state, under a bill approved yesterday, would for the first time require permits to inject millions of gallons of chemically treated water underground to break up rock. Energy companies would also have to disclose the ingredients in fracking fluid and notify nearby landowners of their plans.

    Technological advancements in fracking have ignited a boom in development of wells once deemed uneconomical, particularly shale oil. California’s Monterey Shale may hold 15.4 billion barrels -- two-thirds of the nation’s shale-oil reserves, according to federal estimates.

    “There are still many unanswered questions,” the bill’s author, Senator Fran Pavley, a Democrat from Agoura Hills, near Los Angeles, said yesterday. “It is in the interest of all Californians to monitor and regulate these practices.”

    Evan Westrup, a spokesman for the 75-year-old Democratic governor, said Brown intends to sign the bill into law.

    The measure “comprehensively addresses potential impacts from fracking, including water and air quality, seismic activity and other potential risks,” Westrup said by e-mail yesterday.

    Watered Down

    The Natural Resources Defense Council, California League of Conservation Voters, Clean Water Action and Environmental Working Group, which backed earlier versions of the measure, withdrew their support, saying the bill was too watered down.

    “This bill will not protect Californians from the enormous threats of fracking pollution,” Kassie Siegel, senior counsel of the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute, said yesterday “Fracking poses unacceptable risks to the air we breathe, the water we drink and our climate.”

    The measure would require a study of potential air and water pollution and public health threats posed by fracking and other “enhanced extraction” methods including the use of acid to dissolve rock.

    Lawmakers turned down proposals to suspend fracking until more is known and to require detailed disclosure of the chemicals used in fracking.

    60 Years

    Oil companies have safely used fracking in California for more than 60 years, according to the Western States Petroleum Association, a Sacramento-based industry group.

    “Most of the oil that we’re going after is a mile and a half below the surface, even though the water table is only 500 feet,” Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, a Republican from Twin Peaks, said yesterday. “All that really matters is that well casing holds up, and in 60 years we haven’t had a single one fail.”

    California’s 1,750-square-mile (4,530-square-kilometer) Monterey Shale formation, threading lengthwise through the San Joaquin Valley southeast of San Francisco, in the center of the state, may hold the largest deep-shale oil reserves in the world, the U.S. Energy Department estimates.

    The 15.4 billion barrels would be enough to supply the U.S. for more than two years, the agency has said.

    Development of the deposits could mean 512,000 to 2.8 million jobs by 2020, and add $4.5 billion to $24.6 billion to state and local tax revenue in that period, according to a March report by the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles. USC said the research, partially funded by Western States Petroleum, was conducted by an independent team.

  13. Voelte changes tune on Browse FLNG plan

    FORMER Woodside Petroleum chief executive Don Voelte says he now accepts and endorses Woodside's plan to process the massive Browse gasfields through revolutionary floating liquefied natural gas technology.

    In an exclusive interview with The Weekend Australian, Mr Voelte -- who lobbied intensely to see Browse processed through an onshore LNG plant on Western Australia's northwest coast -- revealed for the first time that he had reconsidered his position and now believed FLNG technology was the best mode of development for the project.

    "I completely understand the decision," Mr Voelte said.

    "I probably would have made the same decision if I was sitting there now.

    "Things do change, I have absolutely no issues with that."

    Mr Voelte, who is now chief executive of the Seven Group, was a major advocate for the plan to develop the Browse fields -- discovered more than 40 years ago but still to be developed owing to their remote location -- through an onshore LNG plant at James Price Point, north of Broome in WA's Kimberley region.

    His efforts saw then-resources minister Martin Ferguson issue Woodside and its partners in Browse with binding instructions to study the development of the field through James Price Point, helping end a stalemate between the Browse partners that had stalled the project's progress.

    However, Woodside under Mr Voelte's successor Peter Coleman announced in April that it had abandoned the James Price Point plan after finding the costly development did not stack up economically.

    Since then, Woodside and its partners have endorsed plans to study the development of Browse through Royal Dutch Shell's FLNG technology. While FLNG is still unproven, it is expected to cost billions of dollars less than the James Price Point plan due to lower infrastructure requirements and access to lower-cost labour markets in Asia.

    The junior oil and gas company he now chairs, Nexus Energy, is exposed to FLNG through its 15 per cent interest in the Royal Dutch Shell-controlled Crux field. Crux has been identified as a possible candidate for development via FLNG.

    Mr Voelte said that while FLNG was best suited to smaller gasfields like Crux which could not support large onshore LNG facilities, rising costs in Australia had made FLNG more suitable for larger gasfields.

    "Australia is stretching the boundaries of what FLNG is about because of the cost of labour and the limited amount of labour," he said.

    "There's the skill issue, so now companies like Woodside and (projects like ExxonMobil and BHP Billiton's huge WA gasfield) Scarborough, where in any other country they'd probably be done onshore, are starting to think FLNG. I understand completely why those CEOs are starting to think that way."

    However, he did note that any drop-off in labour pressures could shift the economics of some of the larger proposed FLNG projects back towards onshore processing.

    Companies such as Santos have recently reported an easing in cost pressures as the wave of LNG construction begins to ease and the mining construction boom fades.

    "Taking a small amount of gas on shore just doesn't make sense if you have FLNG that works standing over the field," Mr Voelte said.

    "But it does shift the economics for the larger projects, like an Ichthys or Browse or Scarborough, it does shift them quite a bit back to the land-based solution (if Australian labour costs fall)."


  14. Voelte changes tune on Browse FLNG plan


    Mr Voelte said he was pleased by Woodside's performance since he left, with the defining project of his reign -- the Pluto LNG plant near Dampier -- now generating billions of dollars in revenue.

    "Pluto is spitting out revenue for the citizens of Australia through rent and royalties, as well as dividends to the shareholders," Mr Voelte said.

    "Pluto came through exactly as we thought it would."

    He noted that a lot of people that wanted to "disown him" as Pluto suffered cost blowouts now seemed to be taking credit for the project.

    "We always knew there'd be tough days at Pluto, and when I was walking around the project no one really wanted to walk with me," he said.

    "But now some of the biggest critics of the time are rewriting history about how much they supported my management team."

  15. A warning for the Fitzroy Valley and Derby.

    Coal killing Hunter, residents say

    It is one of the most beautiful and productive regions in the country, dotted with award-winning wineries, famous horse studs, olive groves and beef and dairy farms.

    But the picturesque Hunter Valley is in danger of being ruined, residents say, by clouds of pollution they believe are generated by mining. They say their health and livelihoods are threatened.

    Hunter Valley Wine and Tourism Association spokesman on mining, Ian Napier, said people in the valley were sick of being told mining and wine could co-exist.

    ''They can't,'' he said.

    As he scraped black dust off solar panels at his Wombat Crossing Vineyard, Mr Napier said it was time the government looked at the cumulative effects of mining pollution.

    He said, despite the fact the worst of the dust pollution was usually confined to certain times of the year, tourism would die if the mines were allowed to devour the valley.

    ''This is the second most visited region in the state,'' Mr Napier said. ''The issue is, when is enough mining enough?''

    Since January, 147 official air pollution alerts in multiple locations across 18 days have been issued by the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH).

    These alerts warn people pollution particles in the air have exceeded national health standards.


    Dr Whelan said health experts had found particle pollution at concentrations well below the national standard were contributing to a range of cardiovascular and respiratory ailments.

    Associate professor Nick Higginbotham, from the Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Newcastle, said the latest review from the World Health Organisation, warned shorter periods of exposure were more harmful than had been previously believed, particularly for people with pre-existing health conditions.

    But if the high number of incidents being recorded was not bad enough, Dr Whelan said, the way environmental regulators treated the alerts on air quality was fuelling community outrage.


    Acting chief executive officer Mark Gifford said the EPA had set up an inter-agency taskforce to address community concerns and had an air particles action plan.

    The EPA says new standards announced on dust control aim for an 80 per cent reduction in dust from mines by next August.

    But Mr Krey said that, when there was an air-pollution alert, something actually needed to be done about it. ''There is no point in just keeping a record of it,'' he said.

    Dr Whelan said the community was unhappy with the EPA's explanations. ''It's time the EPA put more energy and resources into reducing air pollution and less into arguing there is no problem,'' he said.

    ''The EPA's vigorous public relations work is no substitute for active regulation. Spinning data to assert there have been fewer pollution events is no substitute for taking action so there are not another 100-plus pollution alerts in the second half of the year.''

    Hunter Valley Protection Alliance spokesman Graeme Gibson is pushing for mines to be forced to stop operating when dust levels exceed national levels, and to stay closed until levels drops.

  16. Japan to switch off nuclear power, may be some time before it's on again

    ......Kansai Electric Power Co's 1,180 MW Ohi No.4 reactor is scheduled to be disconnected from the power grid late on Sunday and then shut for planned maintenance. It is the only one of Japan's 50 reactors in operation after the nuclear industry came to a virtual halt following the March 2011 Fukushima disaster.


    ......The country's nuclear reactors provided close to a third of the electricity to keep the $5 trillion economy going before the Fukushima disaster, and utilities have had to spend billions of dollars importing oil, gas and coal to make up for the shortfall.

    In 2011, Japan suffered its first trade deficit in more than three decades, and in July of this year it logged its third-biggest trade deficit on record, at 1.02 trillion yen ($10.5 billion), as a weak yen and rising oil prices made energy imports more expensive.

    Several nuclear operators applied in July to re-start reactors under new rules drawn up following the Fukushima disaster, but approvals are likely to be tough to get as the industry regulator strives to show a sceptical public it is serious about safety.

    Industry projections for a re-start vary from as early as December to mid-2014. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the utilities are keen to get reactors up and running again, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe singling out reducing soaring fuel costs as a key plank of his economic reform plans.

    But opinion polls show a majority of Japanese want to end reliance on atomic power, and oppose re-starts.



    Japan consumes about a third of the world's liquefied natural gas (LNG) production, and will likely boost LNG demand to record levels over the next couple of years. LNG imports rose 4.4 percent in volume to a record 86.87 million tonnes, and 14.9 percent in value to a record 6.21 trillion yen ($62.1 billion) in the year through March.

    Imports are likely to rise to around 88 million tonnes this year and around 90 million tonnes in the year to March 2015, according to projections by the Institute of Energy Economics Japan based on a mid-scenario that 16 reactors will be back on-line by March 2015.

    Thirty months on from the Fukushima disaster, such is the level of public concern about nuclear safety that the government is struggling to come up with a long-term energy policy - a delay that is having a profound impact on the economy and underlining just how costly a nuclear-power-free future may be.

    People in the industry reckon Shikoku Electric Power's Ikata plant, Kyushu Electric's Sendai plant and Hokkaido Electric's Tomari plant are among those likely to be the first to re-start.

    "There's talk the Abe administration is putting heavy pressure on the regulator (to re-start reactors)," said Osamu Fujisawa, a Japan-based independent oil economist.

    "It's obviously the economy the administration is after (rather than safety). Otherwise, the business community will look away, dealing an end to the Abe administration."

    ($1 = 99.9850 Japanese yen)

  17. Man who lifted lid on hidden costs of buying

    The man who first thought that governments should auction off rather give away the rights to such things as broadcast spectrum or taxi licences, and who started the thinking that led to the invention of emission trading schemes, died last week at the age of 102.

    He also inspired the joke economists tell each other as a warning against reading too much into statistics: ''If you torture the data long enough, it will confess.''

    He was British-American economist Ronald Coase (rhymes with rose), of the University of Chicago, who in 1991 was awarded the Nobel prize for his trouble.


    But Coase's greatest claim to fame came from a paper he wrote in 1960, The Problem of Social Cost, which became the all-time most cited paper by other academic economists and made him the darling of libertarians and free-market conservatives.

    Social costs - also known as ''negative externalities'' - are costs imposed on third parties by transactions between people in the marketplace. Say I run a factory that imposes a lot of noise on my neighbours, emits fumes and puts gunk into the local river. Since this polluting costs me nothing it represents costs borne by the community, not by me and my customers. It's a cost that's ''external'' to the market.

    What should governments do about this problem? The traditional answer was for them to protect the victims of this action by imposing restrictions or obligations on the perpetrator.

    But Coase argued that, simply by clarifying the property rights involved, governments could leave it to the affected parties to negotiate a satisfactory solution. Again, the solution could be left to the market.

    What's more, this ability to reach a privately negotiated solution meant it didn't matter to which side the government awarded the property rights. The libertarians loved this so much they called it the ''Coase theorem''.

    What they liked was that it appeared to justify a greatly reduced role for governments in solving environmental problems. That it would also favour the rich and powerful was, of course, purely coincidental.

    Over the years, however, Coase made it clear the libertarians had taken him out of context. For one thing, he'd argued that to whom you awarded the property rights made no difference from the perspective of economic efficiency. Obviously, it made a big difference from an equity or fairness perspective.

    And his theorem had been based on the explicit assumption that the transaction costs involved in negotiating a solution were negligible. Not surprisingly, the man who had discovered transaction costs thought that, in the real world, transaction costs would be significant and often prohibitive.

    Is it easy for all the people affected by a factory's pollution to get together and negotiate a satisfactory solution with a rich factory owner? Sounds to me like a case for government intervention.

  18. Should fetal alcohol disorder be classed a disability?

    LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Every day, somewhere in Australia, a baby is born who will endure a lifetime of hardship because of an entirely preventable condition.

    Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is caused by mothers drinking excessive alcohol during pregnancy. It can cause brain damage and life-long learning and development problems.

    The ailment affects black and white families alike, but is most common in some Indigenous communities, like Fitzroy Crossing in Western Australia's far north. There, the Aboriginal community is working with some of the country's top doctors to both identify the extent of the problem and to educate families on how to prevent it.

    They're also pushing for the ailment to be officially recognised as a disability so families can get more help and care.

    Bronwyn Herbert reports.

    BRONWYN HERBERT, REPORTER: On the banks of Fitzroy Crossing in the remote Kimberley region of WA, three boys burn off some steam. But behind the bravado is a debilitating disability, Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, caused by their mother drinking too much while pregnant.

    MARMINJEE HAND, GRANDMOTHER: It became known to me when Tristan came into our care and one of the paediatrician, Dr Lindsay Adam, told me about this disorder, Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, and I just, "Well what is that?" And, yeah, so that's when my journey began.

    GEOFF DAVIS, GRANDFATHER: The fact that he didn't talk. He dragged his foot on one side. Because he couldn't talk and express himself, he used to bite kids and the sorta the tantrum-type things.

    BRONWYN HERBERT: Foetal Alcohol Syndrome is recognisable by certain facial features, including a small head and impaired growth. For Tylan, there's also behavioural and emotional challenges.

    MARMINJEE HAND: It's really frightening.

    GEOFF DAVIS: A nine-year-old kid bashing himself on the head with a piece of wood and then saying, "I'm gonna kill myself."

    MARMINJEE HAND: And things like that, you know.

    BRONWYN HERBERT: That's what he did?

    MARMINJEE HAND: That's what he does when he goes into these rage.

    GEOFF DAVIS: Tylan said to us, "It's like my brain's not working." He's says - hitting himself on the head and it's like - so he could almost recognise that in himself his behaviour and what he was doing was wrong. And I said to him, "Can you control it?," and he said, "No."

    BRONWYN HERBERT: The Fitzroy Valley communities, in partnership with leading researchers from the Georges Institute and Sydney University, have conducted a study of FASD's prevalence. For the first time in Australia, the results will show just how widespread the disorder is within an entire community.

    GEOFF DAVIS: There is a significant percentage of the population who have brain damage because of the alcohol that's been consumed while they were in their mother's womb and that is evident in the way that this place functions.

    MARMINJEE HAND: And they've paralysed the whole community, you know, I mean, the impact that alcohol has had on many families here.

    BRONWYN HERBERT: After more than a dozen suicides and alarming reports of alcohol-fuelled violence and child abuse, the community leaders lobbied the Liquor Board and for the first time in Australia got restrictions placed on take-away alcohol sales.


  19. Should fetal alcohol disorder be classed a disability?


    JUNE OSCAR, FITZROY CROSSING WOMEN'S RESOURCE CENTRE: It was often grandmothers and great-grandmothers saying, "These children are different to how we've experienced parenting and raising our own kids," and it was becoming evident to them that alcohol consumption by women during pregnancy was having a toll on their lives.

    BRONWYN HERBERT: Aboriginal leaders have worked with some of Australia's top medical experts to assess over 100 children across the Fitzroy Valley's 45 remote communities.

    JAMES FITZPATRICK, PAEDIATRICIAN, TELETHON INSTITUTE: Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder isn't an Aboriginal problem and it isn't a problem just in remote Australia. It's a problem where a lady drinks alcohol during pregnancy, and unfortunately, that happens in all communities across Australia. It's just that in some places there are pockets of patterns of heavy drinking and that's where FASD will become more prevalent.

    BRONWYN HERBERT: Paediatrician James Fitzpatrick has become an extended part of the family.

    Dr Fitzpatrick says brain damage can't be repaired, but early intervention can help overcome learning difficulties.

    JAMES FITZPATRICK: You can reduce the impact of those secondary disabilities two to four-fold if you can diagnose early and provide supportive therapeutic interventions early. So that's what I'm really passionate about is how do we find that these kids are at risk by working with mums while they're pregnant? How do we screen and diagnose for FASD? And then how do we provide early interventions that will help this child in their health, but also in their educational environment?

    BRONWYN HERBERT: The people here want FASD recognised as a disability so they can get more support.

    JAMES FITZPATRICK: The recognition of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder as a disability will be incredibly important in enabling families and schools, largely, to access the therapeutic services that they require.

    BRONWYN HERBERT: For this family, it's about making a stand to improve the lives of not just this generation, but the next.

    MARMINJEE HAND: For us, not only just our community here in Fitzroy, but as whole of Australia because it's not just an Indigenous issue, it's all of our issues.

    LEIGH SALES: Bronwyn Herbert reporting.