Monday, October 14, 2013

Growth of gas tests plagues locals | The Australian

Growth of gas tests plagues locals | The Australian

Jurien Bay
Tammy Harston, left,  Chris Cooper, Judy Briggs and Andrea Gray at  Lesueur National Park,  220km north of Perth. Picture: Marie Nirme. Source: TheAustralian
IN spring wildflower country, Andrea Gray, Chris Cooper and Judy Briggs wonder what will happen to the exquisite landscape around them.
Standing in Mount Lesueur National Park, 220km north of Perth, knee-deep in some of the most botanically rich bush in Australia, the community worker, deep sea diver and pizza bar owner from Jurien Bay say they love where they live.
But they worry about a sharp escalation in seismic surveys for shale gas on a dozen farms in the district and within a few hundred metres of the park boundary. They suspect that the Midwest is headed down the same path as rural Queensland, where an outbreak of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has split communities.
Last week, the Environmental Protection Authority confirmed it was assessing a proposal by AWE to undertake drilling and fracking on farmland just outside the park. And a dozen farm families further inland have been asked to sign agreements to let gas explorers access their paddocks.
Cooper, Briggs and Gray of the Jurien Bay Action Group have several concerns.
"Dieback disease is a huge problem," says Cooper. "If trucks and drill rigs spread the fungus into Mount Lesueur, it would be devastating."
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  1. UPDATE - Oilex snags two exploration permits in Canning Basin
    By Jamie Nimmo October 14 2013, 2:43pm

    Oilex has been awarded two exploration permits in the Canning Basin, one of Australia’s most exciting shale plays.

    The two neighbouring blocks, L12-08 and L12-09, have similar characteristics to Oilex’s Cambay Field and are possibly prospective for oil and liquids-rich gas.

    It adds 6,444 square kilometres to its acreage, bringing its total position to just below 18,000 square kilometres (around 4.4 million acres).

    According to the US Energy Information Administration, the Canning Basin has the largest unconventional hydrocarbon potential down under, with plenty of interest in the region of late from the majors.

    Planning and competitive tendering for an airborne gravity and magnetic survey has begun for SPA-0055, which sits next door to the two new blocks. If the data shows it will be worth the company’s while, it can convert a portion of the block into an exploration permit.

    The company, which also has acreage in India, has started a formal farm-in process in Australia due to the amount of interest received in its acreage.

    The average price for land in that part of the world has tended to be between $20 and $22 per gross acre, which would value the company’s 4.4 million acres at just below $100 million.

    Managing director Ron Miller explained to Proactive Investors the advantages for majors looking to farm into its acreage: “We think this is an above average acreage because it has a concentrated play fairway; it allows you to focus very quickly on where the plays might be and what they might be so you don’t spend a lot of exploration dollars looking for the sweet spot.”

    The areas are next to the world-renowned Pilbara mining district, meaning there is the potential to use the substantial existing infrastructure.

    He also points to the renaissance of the Australian onshore mining industry, which has attracted the attention of the majors and thinks the new blocks will improve its chances of completing a deal.

    The company now has 14 days to formally accept offers for the blocks.

    Elsewhere in India, Miller said he remains hopeful of spudding well 77H before the end of the year.

    “We’ve got all the tenders in we need, we’re doing technical evaluations, we’re doing commercial valuations in conjunction with our partner, and we’re getting recommendations ready to go,” he said.

    “Hopefully we’ll have some news on that later on this quarter.”

    Broker RFC Ambrian said the awards show that management is following through with its strategy.

    “Furthermore, these additional gazettal blocks should enhance Oilex’s ability to farm down its Canning Basin assets by providing a new entrant with acreage that encompasses the whole of a potential new unconventional play fairway within the Canning Basin,” said analyst Emily Ashford.

    She has a ‘speculative buy’ recommendation and 13 cent target price for the shares, which are currently changing hands for just below 5 cents.

  2. Standards' chief cleared EPA error

    The disastrous decision to let conflicted Environmental Protection Authority board members deliberate on the Kimberley gas hub was endorsed by the public sector's standards commissioner Mal Wauchope, it has emerged.

    The Opposition now wants an audit into whether advice to other agencies on conflict management was similarly flawed, heaping further pressure on Mr Wauchope, whose statutory role is under review by a parliamentary committee.

    EPA chairman Paul Vogel was criticised in August after Chief Justice Wayne Martin ruled his decision to allow board members to deliberate, but not vote, was outside the law.

    Days later, Woodside walked away from a land-based processing plant in favour of floating LNG technology.

    The embarrassing gaffe meant two board members with conflicts of interests were allowed to discuss the project until just four months before the EPA's July 2012 decision to approve the onshore gas processing hub.

    But Justice Martin's judgment reveals Dr Vogel was not the only person who incorrectly decided some disclosures of pecuniary interests did not prevent members from deliberating.

    A document Dr Vogel prepared on his conflict management plan was annotated: "Advice on the above strategy was sought from the Public Sector Commissioner. His office believed it to be reasonable given the circumstances."

    The Public Sector Commission is responsible for establishing public sector codes and helping agencies abide by them.

    Shadow treasurer Ben Wyatt said Mr Wauchope's role in the "embarrassment" was a concern because his commission published governance guides for boards.

    He said a review was now needed on other determinations.

    A spokesman said Mr Wauchope was on leave and could not comment. He said it was understood Mr Wauchope held direct talks with Dr Vogel on the issue.

    Parliament's public accounts committee is investigating the commissioner's functions and powers after Justice Martin described his role as "unaccountable" in a speech in August.
    The same month it was revealed Mr Wauchope changed the scope of an inquiry into the office of senior Liberal Peter Collier after a request from the minister.

  3. States keep billions in royalty grab by: Mark Coultan From: The Australian October 15, 2013

    AUSTRALIA'S two powerhouse resource states have vowed to keep the multi-billion-dollar royalty hikes they introduced under the cover of federal Labor's mining tax, rejecting industry calls for them to reduce their take. In a drag on the mining sector, the Queensland and West Australian governments have told The Australian they have no intention of repealing increases in state-based mineral royalties they introduced after Labor brought in the minerals resource rent tax.


    Oil spill in North Dakota

    Bianca Bartucciotto
    Friday, 11 October 2013

    A PIPELINE operated by Tesoro Logistics has spilled more than 20,000 barrels of crude oil over a rural field in North Dakota’s northeast, causing the largest spill in the state’s history.


    Climate change: Indigenous Australians 'face disproportionate harm'

    Second leaked IPCC report warns number of heatwave-related deaths in Sydney could triple by end of the century

    Indigenous Australians face “disproportionate” harm from climate change, according to a leaked report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

    The second IPCC report, which is due to be released next March, also warns that climate change could swamp $226bn worth of coastal property via sea-level rises and cause the number of heatwave-related deaths in Sydney to triple by the end of the century.

    It says there is “high agreement” among scientists that Indigenous people will face significant challenges from heat stress, extreme weather events and heightened rates of disease by 2100.

    “Little adaptation of Indigenous communities to climate change is apparent to date,” the report says.

    A sharp increase in heatwaves will impact the broader Australian population, especially older people, through heat-related deaths and hospitalisations. In Sydney, the number of deaths caused by heatwaves is expected to triple from 2.5 deaths for every 100,000 people to 7.4 deaths for every 100,000 people by 2100.

    Water and food-borne diseases are projected to increase, with up to 870,000 new cases of bacterial gastroenteritis by 2100. But the IPCC warns there is minimal scientific consensus when it comes to specific disease projections and their link to climate change.

    Australia is set to suffer financial as well as human loss, with the IPCC saying sea-level rise is a “significant risk” to the country because of the heavy population skew towards coastal cities and towns.

    A rise of 1.1m would affect assets worth $226bn, according to the report, threatening 274,000 residential and 8,600 commercial buildings. Risks to road and rail infrastructure would “increase significantly” with a rise above 0.5m, the report indicates.

    “While the magnitude of sea-level rise during the 21st century remains uncertain, its persistence over many centuries implies that realisation of these risks is only a question of time,” it says.

    The leaking of the second IPCC report of three comes in the wake of the official release of the headline first report, which was unveiled in September. The initial document, a summation of the work of hundreds of climate scientists from around the world over the past five years, said there was a 95% certainty that humans are responsible for most of the 0.89C rise in average temperatures since 1901.

    Australia is set to experience a 6C rise in average temperatures on its hottest days, with the loss of many reptile, bird and mammal species, as well as the celebrated Kakadu wetlands.