Friday, March 21, 2014

A rational fear: Red tape industry suffers after Abbott announces cuts – videos | World news |

A rational fear: Red tape industry suffers after Abbott announces cuts – videos | World news |

There have been unforeseen consequences following the Abbott government's announcement to cut back on red tape: not least in the red tape industry itself. The team from comedy troupe A Rational Fear dive head first into the issues that matter most to Australia - from a satirical point of view. Will the federal government see the error of its ways?


  1. Guess there's more to scrapping this Red Tape than I thought !

    Sex with child OK in Victoria if married

    The Australian |
    March 24, 2014

    THE Victorian government is under pressure to scrap an antiquated legal loophole that states an adult can lawfully have sex with a child as young as 12 so long as they are married.

  2. What type of red tape is this?


    Children call Australian immigration detention 'hell'

    Sydney (AFP) - Children held in immigration detention in Australia have described conditions as "hell" with a human rights inquiry Monday detailing many banging their heads, biting themselves and wetting their beds.

    The Australian Human Rights Commission gained access to Australia's main detention centre for asylum-seekers on Christmas Island as part of its National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention.

    Commission President Gillian Triggs said what the team -- which included a paediatrician and a child psychiatrist -- found was disturbing, with most of the 315 children there at the time having been held for six to eight months.

    They noted that most of the children were visibly distressed during their recent visit.

    The children told the inquiry "this place is hell", "help me get out of here" and "there's no school, nowhere to play and nothing to do," the commission said.

    They also spoke about their distress at living in a closed environment with adults who were sad, angry and sometimes attempting self-harm.

    "The overwhelming sense is of the enormous anxiety, depression, mental illness but particularly developmental retardation," Triggs told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

    "The children are stopping talking. You can see a little girl comes up to you and she is just staring at you but won't communicate."

    Paediatrician Karen Zwi and child psychiatrist Sarah Mares said that being detained was taking its toll with recorded instances of children biting and banging their heads.

    "If a parent is depressed, anxious, has any health condition that impacts on their capacity to care for their child, or the environment is frightening, then that child's development is often impacted," said Zwi.

    "This was evident in several of the children we saw, with developmental delay (usually delayed speaking), and regression such as bedwetting."

    Triggs added that many of the drawings the children gave them depicted prisons.

    "These children are actually identifying themselves by their numbers, not by their names, which is shocking in itself," she said, adding that the asylum-seekers felt they were in limbo.


    Asylum seeker children describe Christmas Island detention centre as 'hell', Human Rights Commission says

    ....................."They're asking for help and they perceive themselves as being behind bars and in prison. And this theme is repeated over and over again."

    Professor Triggs describes the conditions at Christmas Island as inhumane.

    "To state the objective principles of law as a matter of very clear international law: children should not be detained for anything more than what is absolutely necessary for health checks and security checks," she said.

    "These children are being detained on what are, on any analysis, prisons at a remote island in shockingly hot, humid and difficult circumstances, in a way that cannot meet what you would imagine would be the standard at an international level."

    Opposition immigration spokesman Richard Marles says the reports are "concerning".

    "I think it is important that these inquiries are being undertaken. And I think those reports are concerning about the state of children at Christmas Island," he said.

  3. When it comes to spilling oil it seems there is not much red tape at all - and even less equipment to clean up.
    The Arctic and the Kimberley have much in common.


    Exxon Valdez: what lessons have we learned from the 1989 oil spill disaster?

    25 years since the oil tanker spilled millions of gallons of crude oil in the Gulf of Alaska, we remain callously unprepared to mitigate a future oil spill in the Arctic waters

    .......................In the quarter century since the Exxon Valdez foundered, changing economic and climatic conditions have led to increased Arctic shipping, including increasing volumes of petroleum products through the Arctic. Sadly, apart from a few areas around oil fields, there is little to no capacity to respond to an accident – leaving the region’s coastal indigenous communities and iconic wildlife at risk of a catastrophe.

    Local Alaskans and conservationists like myself – who witnessed the Exxon Valdez impact at close range – will never forget the damage. The wake of oil spread far from Bligh Reef, devastating life in Prince William Sound, killing over a quarter of a million seabirds at the large colonies in neighbouring Cook Inlet, before moving along the coast of Kodiak and to a point on the Alaska Peninsula 460 miles to the south.

    Yet more than memories remain. Oil persists beneath the boulders and cobbles of the affected region, sea otters have only just recovered after 25 years, and some species such as Pacific herring and the fisheries reliant on them are still not recovering at all, despite Exxon’s overtly optimistic prediction of a quick and full recovery of Prince William Sound.

    The fact is that even under ideal conditions, relatively little oil is actually recovered from a large spill. Its long-term impacts demand that we redouble our efforts on prevention to protect natural resources and the communities that rely on them – particularly in the Arctic where the environmental challenges are greater, the response and cleanup infrastructure frequently poor, and the logistics for mounting a response in remote environments immense. Furthermore, Arctic wildlife tends to aggregate in staggering numbers, rendering large portions of entire species vulnerable to a spill, like the seabirds of Cook Inlet.


    While overall co-ordination of any large oil spill naturally rests with a formalised incident command, the first responders to a future oil spill in Arctic waters will more often than not be from the nearest local communities. Local hunters possess knowledge of natural resources passed down over centuries, including the migratory movements of birds, marine mammals, and fish, as well as how to operate safely in their coastal waters.

    These are the people who stand to lose the most in the event of a spill, which could devastate regional wildlife and fish populations. Providing them the proper training, equipment, and infrastructure for their communities will help them to play a more meaningful role in planning for and safely responding to any future environmental disasters.


    During the Exxon Valdez incident, villages dependent on fishing were financially ruined. A similar event farther north, impacting the health and abundance of marine mammal populations, could be even more devastating. Such losses of iconic wildlife and damage to this stunning environment threaten not only a unique and precious part of our planet; but also the nutritional needs of coastal communities and a critical component of their cultures.

    In the end, the story of the Exxon Valdez remains a cautionary tale. While simply hoping for the best may be the cheapest way forward given the resources required to establish functional networks of community and government bodies willing and able to work together, accidents do and will continue to happen........

    1. Activists climb rig on Exxon Valdez anniversary

      Tuesday, 25 March 2014

      GREENPEACE activists have marked 25 years today since the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska by scaling an ExxonMobil rig destined to drill in the Russian Arctic.

      Fourteen activists from seven different countries called for a ban on offshore oil drilling in the Arctic as they protested in Norway, with five protestors making the climb up the West Alpha rig.

      The climbers unveiled a banner saying “No Exxon Valdez in Russian Arctic”.

      “We are here today, on the 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez disaster, to protest against ExxonMobil´s plans of drilling in the Arctic,” US activist Ethan Gilbert said.

      “I was a young child living in Alaska when the Exxon Valdez disaster happened and the effects there are still being felt on the people and the environment even today.

      “In the Arctic the effects would be even worse.

      “We are here on behalf of over 5 million people who have joined the movement to protect the Arctic from oil drilling.”

      Exxon has a multi-billion dollar joint venture with Russia’s Rosneft to explore for oil in the Kara Sea, with the block intended for drilling overlapping the protected Russian Arctic National Park, according to Greenpeace.

      Greenpeace claims it is illegal for the drilling to take place under Russian law.

      “ExxonMobil plans to drill in the most extreme and remote area of the Arctic this year,” Nordic activist Erlend Tellnes said.

      “This is madness. If something goes wrong, they will be all alone in the far north, with rescue equipment located thousands of kilometres away.

      “We need to stop all oil companies before they cause the inevitable spill in the Arctic, where the harsh conditions would make it impossible to clean up.

      “Look at Exxon Valdez. It is still affecting Alaskan nature 25 years after the accident.”

      Exxon Valdez stood as the worst oil spill in US history until BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010, with Exxon spilling an estimated 40.88 million litres of oil before it was contained.

  4. Australian companies accused of jeopardising conservation in Indonesia

    WA mining firm to fast-track development of ‘high-potential’ holding bordering on Sumatra’s crucial Leuser ecosystem

    A trio of Australian companies have been accused of making decisions that could hamper attempts to protect Indonesian rainforests where threatened species, including elephants, tigers and orangutans, live.

    Western Australia-based mining firm Prosperity Resources has been granted a 41,000-hectare area to explore for gold and copper on the edge of the prized Leuser ecosystem in Sumatra.

    Conservation groups are fighting an increasingly bitter battle against a plan to strip protection from a vast area of the 2.2m hectare Leuser ecosystem, which is the last place on Earth where tigers, elephants, tigers and orangutans are found within the one area.

    A new spatial plan drawn up by the regional Aceh government, currently being evaluated by the Indonesian government, will open up much of the forest for mining, palm oil cultivation and logging.

    Environmentalists claim the plan is illegal and have urged the European Union to mediate to ensure conservation law is applied.

    “If the Indonesian central government approves Aceh’s spatial plan, the Sumatran elephant, tiger, rhino and orangutan will be pushed to extinction,” said Dr Ian Singleton of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme. “There is no question that we will see them all disappear in less than a lifetime unless this spatial plan is rejected.”

    Prosperity Resources’ website states that its “high potential” Sumatran holding covers an “underexplored yet potentially highly prospective mineralised belt” in Aceh. The land has been granted under the controversial new spatial plan.


    An Aceh-based environmental campaigner, who did not want to be named, told Guardian Australia that Prosperity Resources and Canadian firm East Asia Minerals were actively lobbying the government to open up protected areas.

    “Parts of the Leuser ecosystem could be facing wholesale destruction in a key biodiversity area that’s the last lowland forest left in Sumatra,” he said.

    “This is pretty much one of the last habitats left for the Sumatran elephant and we’re already seeing the impact of increased poaching. Prosperity Resources’ concessions overlap those of other mining firms and it seems some companies are trying to operate before the plan has been approved.”

    Two other Australian firms – Office Brands and Office Choice – have also come under fire from activists keen to protect dwindling Indonesian rainforests.

    Both companies stock the PaperOne product supplied by Indonesian pulp and paper company April, which has been criticised over its logging practices.

    In August last year, April was stripped of its Forest Stewardship Council certification, with the company warned in January that will be expelled from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development unless it demonstrated it was not involved in deforestation.


  5. Broome connection to WA Senate race.....

    The Palmer United Party (PUP) has preferenced the Help End Marijuana Prohibition (HEMP) Party lead candidate James Moylan 14th, ahead of the Liberals and all other WA-based candidates of major parties.

    Greens candidate Scott Ludlam, who launched his campaign on Saturday, may have more to fear from a HEMP challenger.

    "If you look at the way the preferences are being allocated, the scene that emerges is that the Hemp Party get a lot of preferences from very small parties," he said.

    He says if they end up accumulating those preferences, the HEMP Party could end up ahead of PUP and would collect their preferences too.

    Mr Ludlam has also preferenced the HEMP party ahead of all other major party candidates except Labor's Louise Pratt.

    If Mr Ludlam is excluded, his preferences could give them a further boost.

    HEMP Party candidate struggles to name Premier

    Mr Moylan says he splits his time between Queensland and New South Wales but would move to WA if he won a seat.

    At the party's campaign launch earlier on Tuesday, Mr Moylan struggled to name WA Premier Colin Barnett, referring to him as "Barrett".

    Mr Moylan says he has no desire to become a politician and is running mainly to promote cannabis law reform.

    The party's website says it wants to legalise cannabis for personal, medical and industrial use.


    Mr Moylan says he has visited WA about half a dozen times, including a few months spent living in SAND DUNES NEAR BROOME when he was 17.


    There are about 6,000 members across Australia and about 400 members in WA, he says.

    Mr Moylan has described his party as a "left-of-centre" party, which bases policy decisions on science and rationality.

  6. Tony Abbott's Tasmanian wilderness claim doesn't check out

    •The claim: Tony Abbott says the 74,000 hectares the Government is proposing to remove from the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area is not pristine.

    •The verdict: Expert analysis suggests more than 85 per cent of the area has not been logged, and that there is only a small amount of degradation or plantation timber. Further, UNESCO does not require an area to be "pristine" in order to be listed as a World Heritage Area.

    What the experts say

    Professor Brendan Mackey from Griffith University undertook a scientific assessment of areas including those that later became the 2013 boundary extension. Professor Mackey has recently conducted a fresh analysis of natural forest cover and disturbance in the 74,000 hectare area now in question.

    Professor Mackey says only a small percentage of the area the Government seeks to have excised has been industrially logged or is plantation forest.

    Based on his analysis of the 74,000 hectares, he says "86 per cent is natural forest that has not been industrially logged and 4 per cent is heavily disturbed".

    The land proposed for excision contains tall eucalypt forests which the World Heritage Committee previously found to have outstanding universal value, and plantations make up only a tiny fraction of the land in question, Professor Mackey says. "There is some eight hectares of eucalypt plantation in the areas proposed for excision, five hectares of which is in the Florentine Valley, and there is an apparent 0.008 hectare of pine plantation."

    Most of it consists of forests dominated by tall trees that were alive when Europeans invaded Australia... Most of it lacks any exotic plant species.

    Peter Hitchcock, an international environmental and heritage consultant who has advised the Australian government on aspects of the Tasmanian Wilderness listing, including the 2013 extension, agrees. "The area of so called 'pine plantation' is 80 square metres - about a third the size of a tennis court - and had already been harvested," he said.

    Mr Hitchcock says only 322 hectares of the 10,563 hectare Mount Wedge-Upper Florentine area, or around 3 per cent, has been logged.

    Mr Hitchcock, who was a commissioner on the Helsham Inquiry into Tasmanian forests in the 1980s, says most of the logging in Mount Wedge - which sits between Lake Gordon and Lake Pedder - is decades old and regrowth is well advanced.

    He also challenges the Federal Government's submission to UNESCO that the 748 hectare Dove River region near Cradle Mountain contains "disturbed" areas. "There is no evidence of logging and the only evidence of any disturbance is a property access road across the north west corner," he said. "The remainder appears pristine rainforest and woodland, mostly on very steep slopes."

    Professor Jamie Kirkpatrick from the University of Tasmania has also studied the area facing excision and says most of the 74,000 hectares has not been logged.

    "Most of it consists of forests dominated by tall trees that were alive when Europeans invaded Australia," Professor Kirkpatrick said. "Most of it lacks any exotic plant species."

    The verdict

    The Prime Minister told the timber industry dinner the 74,000 hectares proposed for excision from the listed area is not pristine forest.

    He said the 74,000 hectares has been "logged... degraded... in some cases it's plantation timber".

    However, expert analysis suggests more than 85 per cent of the area has not been logged, and that there is only a small amount of degradation or plantation timber.

    Further, UNESCO does not require an area to be "pristine" in order to be listed as a World Heritage Area.

    Mr Abbott's claim doesn't check out.

  7. Six-month freeze on CSG exploration licences in New South Wales

    The New South Wales Government is moving to take the heat out of the issue of coal seam gas (CSG) ahead of next year's election, by announcing a six-month freeze on all new exploration licences.

    CSG has been a hot political issue in regional areas and there has been mounting pressure from Nationals MPs for more action from the Government.

    It is understood it was preparing to make a major announcement in Question Time this afternoon but the Education Minister Adrian Piccoli let the cat out of the bag on ABC Radio in the Riverina this morning, where recent CSG applications have been made.

    "There'll be a six month freeze on the consideration of any other applications right across New South Wales," he said.

    "People are uncertain about it, the government wants to make sure that whatever kind of mining occurs that it's done properly, the public are protected, taxpayers are protected and most importantly that the environment is protected as well."

    He says the government will use the six months to take another look at the application process for CSG licences, to make sure only legitimate and responsible companies can take part.

  8. Legal advice about CSG contamination of food not disclosed

    To date, there has been no contamination of meat by the coal seam gas sector.

    But legal experts warn it’s only a matter of time before such an issue comes to court.

    Just who is liable for damages, if a consumer falls ill and traces it back to petroleum exploration, is not clear.

    The cattle industry attempted to find out last year, but the findings are not allowed to be released due to professional legal privilege.

    “I think we have to be clear here," said Dugald Gordon, chief executive of the Australian Lot Feeders Association (ALFA).

    “We got Safe Meat to look at this issue and whether it would pose a risk to producers, and they determined the risk is negligible, so we have to be careful about the language we use.

    "Our markets are very sensitive on issues such as residues.

    “Certainly we need to maintain a watching brief over this issue.”

    The story has emerged this week, in a Beef Central report, that the Cattle Council and ALFA funded a project, managed by Meat and Livestock Australia, for legal advice on who in the supply chain is covered and who is liable.

    But the detailed report has not been released. What's in the public domain is little more than a summary.

    Mr Gordon says the issue is complex, and so landowners should monitor their bores.

    “We’ve got consumer law, environmental law, water legislation, contract law and we’ve got common law and they vary between states.

    “So it’s complex and we’d have to be careful making general statements.

    “It’s important landowners monitor their bores. The CSG is expanding and we’re aware of that, so let’s do the work.”

    The Basin Sustainability Alliance (BSA), a group representing landholders and rural communities, wants Meat and Livestock Australia to release the report, saying it's shocked it's been kept from cattle producers for 12 months.

    Meat and Livestock Australia says a summary of the legal advice will be released today on the MLA website.

    MLA says the law firm prepared the report on the basis that it would not be made public, a common practice for legal advice.

    Peter Shannon, partner in Shine Lawyers, at Dalby on the Darling Downs, says it’s the MLA that is claiming legal privilege in not releasing the advice.

    “Legal Privilege is the client’s privilege, not the lawyer’s privilege, so the client can waive that privilege.

    “So if you think about it, the advice is to the MLA. It’s unlikely the MLA will be directly involved in court action. It will be a producer, or an organisation producing beef, that would be involved.

    “So I think the circumstances in which that privilege are pretty guarded. And in any event, the purpose of getting the advice is to stimulate discussion and lobbying and to understand where producers sit.

    “There’s absolutely no doubt there’s potential for contamination and the extent and potential ramifications are something that should be agitated."

    Peter Shannon says he has been involved in 'incidents' where “fracking ponds have overtopped or issues like that have been involved, and generally those get negotiated with the companies. But we are only very early into the production phase in Queensland".

    “When we move into the sustenance of the production we’ll see an explosion of issues that will bubble up.”

  9. Legal advice about CSG contamination of food not disclosed

    On the legal advice, Mr Shannon says there are two issues.

    “Initial contractual liability rests between the buyer and the producer, but in negligence where you fail to take reasonable standard of care, to protect against damage, that liability might be both the producer and the CSG company.

    “In that circumstance, the producer might sue the CSG company depending on what is in the (CSG company's) access agreement (to the farm).

    “And the CSG company might argue contributory negligence by the landholder as to whether he should have done more to protect himself.

    “But I think the price of admission of CSG companies onto the properties should mean the landholder is not out of pocket at all.”

    Ian Coleman, a Senior Counsel, says the miner has a duty of care.

    “It’s strongly arguable that a coal miner or CSG producer has a duty of care not to do things that pollute waterways or damage the land.

    "The most obvious point for landholders is if it's damaging the aquifers.

    “There is so much material of a scientific nature, suggesting the risks of damage to aquifers either by polluting them or damaging the aquifer physically so that it ceases to be available, so that it is strongly arguable, (that) they have a duty of care to the water resources and those who they know depend on those aquifers for their livelihood.

    “But from there it becomes a matter of proof, in terms of causality, and whether the miner or CSG extractor took reasonable steps.”

    Meanwhile, the gas industry says it’s highly regulated.

    Rick Wilkinson, from the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, expects to meet the same standards as any other industry.

    "We have to report to very rigorous reporting regimes. I'm sure farmers are very familiar with them, and we meet those or exceed them."

    He says studies by the CSIRO and by the companies into the aquifers are important parts of the final approval for CSG drilling.

    1. Territory cattlemen want a say in mining boom

      ABC Rural Kristy O'Brien

      Cattle producers in the Northern Territory want a greater say over mining and exploration activities that happen on their pastoral lease.

      A motion passed at today's Northern Territory Cattlemen's Association (NTCA) AGM, has called on the NT Government to make it mandatory for petroleum and mining companies to negotiate access agreements with pastoralists prior to any activity.

      NTCA executive officer, Tracey Hayes, says the motion was put forward by the Alice Springs branch and unanimously supported by all of the association's sub branches.

      "There is a high level of concern in the industry," she said.

      "Around Alice Springs hundreds of square kilometres of our best pastoral land is affected. That land could end up being worthless because there are few protections in place.

      "The NT Government needs to encourage companies to come to the table with landholders and agree on some basic access conditions. It's just good manners and makes good sense."

      Ms Hayes says the NTCA is not 'anti-mining', but believes a lot of the issues in eastern states between mining companies and pastoralists has happened because of communication breakdowns.

      She says pastoralists in the NT currently have no say when it comes to mining and exploration companies accessing their pastoral lease and that needs to change.

      "All that currently exists for pastoral lease owners, is they receive a letter in the mail advising them that an exploration permit has been granted over their lease, that's the sum total of engagement that's required with landholders currently," she said.

      "We would like the government to include mandatory access agreements in the requirement for mining companies coming onto pastoral leases, so at the very minimum there's an engagement between the two companies.

      "We are urging the government to look at this situation as a matter of urgency and in the interests of a vibrant Northern Territory pastoral, mining and petroleum sector."

      If you haven't seen ABC Rural's special series "Mining the Roper" click here

    2. NT Environment Minister calls for fracking inquiry

      ABC Rural By Caddie Brain and Matt Brann

      The Northern Territory's Environment Minister is recommending a government inquiry into the use of fracking in the oil and gas industry.

      There's been growing concern about the use of the technique, otherwise known as hydraulic fracturing.


      Minister Peter Chandler has called on the Northern Territory Government to look into the environmental impact of fracking and how risks are assessed and managed by companies.

      "Hydraulic fracturing or fracking could be the key to unlocking huge economic benefits for the NT oil and gas industry," he said.

      "However, people are unsure about what the potential impacts from these practices could have on the environment and that does create some angst.

      "These community concerns have led me to recommend that this government commission an inquiry into the potential environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing in the Northern Territory."

      Mr Chandler says he's written to the Northern Territory’s independent Environmental Protection Agency recommending the inquiry.

      It comes after pastoralists formed a lobby group last week, to fight against the use of fracking on their land.

      Stedman Ellis from the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA) says it's important that Territorians are well informed about the use of fracking, but an inquiry is unlikely to uncover anything new.

      "I think I'd be confident that any inquiry conducted in the Northern Territory will reinforce the findings of other inquiries we've seen... that hydraulic fracturing and the overall development of the shale gas industry is safe and sustainable, and a necessary practice to realise the economic opportunities of a natural gas industry," he said.

      "An unfortunate part of people's effort to understand the potential risks and rewards associated with shale gas, is the scare campaign from environmental groups around Australia."

      NT environmental groups are calling for a moratorium on fracking in the Northern Territory.

      Stuart Blanch from the NT Environment Centre says his organisation would welcome an inquiry.

      "We've been calling for an independent inquiry for the last four years," he said.

      "The claims by the oil and gas industry that shale gas and fracking is safe really needs investigating.

      "It's not just concerns about environmental impacts that need investigating; pastoralists, farmers, fishermen, land councils and people in the Territory government do not accept the claims from APPEA.

      "What we need is stronger laws, better science, better understanding of the risks and real consultation."

  10. No wonder the Speaker has banned laughing......

    After the Knights and Dames there's this.........

    The Red Tape joke!


    Tony Abbott's repeal day will save businesses just $13m

    'The biggest bonfire of regulations in our country’s history' is described by opposition as 'cleaning and vacuuming the spare room'

    Tony Abbott had stoked expectations of "the biggest bonfire of regulations in our country’s history". But the prime minister’s widely trumpeted “repeal day” led to the passage of legislation worth just $13m in compliance savings to business.

    The government devoted most of Wednesday to lower-house debate about redundant laws, as part of its push to remove red tape and ease the pressure on businesses.

    But opposition MPs ridiculed the worth of the changes, which included the removal of the hyphen from "e-mail" in existing legislation and the abolition of a 1909 act requiring owners of mules and bullocks to hand over their animals for defence purposes.


    ,,,,,, the deputy leader of the Greens, Adam Bandt, warned the government's deregulation push contained "land mines" such as wage cuts of up to 25% for government-contracted cleaners.

    The government is revoking the Commonwealth cleaning services guidelines from 1 July this year, but that was not part of legislation debated on Wednesday. The former Labor government introduced guidelines that outlined minimum hourly rates of pay for Australian government cleaning services contracts.


    Green army escapes ‘red tape’ scrutiny, despite pledge to test all new legislation

    Labor and the Greens criticise exemption for laws setting up 'green army' and raise concerns over workplace protections

    Controversial new laws setting up Tony Abbott’s “green army” have been exempted from a regulatory impact statement (RIS), despite the prime minister saying he would “almost never” allow an exemption from the procedure in order to guard against a resurgence of “red tape”.

    The RIS exemption comes despite the fact that the social security legislation (green army programme) bill 2014 – debated in the same week as the government’s first “repeal day” – regulates to remove commonwealth health and safety, and workplace protections for the estimated 15,000 green army recruits.


    Both Labor and the Greens have criticised the legislation for removing health and safety protections for army participants.

    Labor has introduced an amendment to the bill, which will be voted down in the lower house by the government’s numbers, but the regulatory uncertainty about workplace protections means it is unlikely to pass the existing Senate in its current form.

    The environment minister, Greg Hunt, has said that service providers, who will run the program, will need to develop risk plans for each project.


    Green army recruits – who will be aged 17 to 24 – will work up to 30 hours a week and be paid about half the minimum wage for environmental “clean-up” work like weeding, fencing and tree planting. Some of their work will constitute formal training.


    All these trainees will be exempt from commonwealth workplace laws, including the Work Health and Safety Act, the Fair Work Act and the Safety and Rehabilitation and Compensation Act

  11. An interactive by Oliver Milman, Christian Bennett and Mike Bowers

    The Great Barrier Reef - an Obituary

  12. Thais in $2bn WA gasfield selloff

    Bridget Carter and Matt Chambers |
    The Australian |
    March 28, 2014 12

    THAI oil and gas giant PTT is selling down its $2 billion Montara gas project and its Cash and Maple gasfields off the coast of Western Australia as major players globally look to reinvest into assets with higher growth prospects.

    The assets are among billions of dollars worth being sold down by major producers - including Santos, which is offloading the Mereenie Gas Field in central Australia thought to be worth about $100 million and is set to sell other assets in the Browse Basin.

    The listed Armour Energy, founded by former Arrow Energy executives Nicholas Mather and Robert de Weijer, is also looking to sell down Northern Territory assets worth up to $100m, while Karoon Gas is seeking partners for almost $1bn worth of its assets, calling on the help of advisers, which are believed to be Credit Suisse and JPMorgan.

    It is understood PTT is looking to sell down a major stake of Montara, in a deal that could be worth at least $1bn. The level of investment would depend on market interest, sources said.

    Investment bank JPMorgan is running the sales process for PTT, according to sources.

    Montara started production last year and was expected to hit peak production this year, sources said.

    The asset had been valued by consulting firm McKinsey at $2bn, while the valuation of Cash and Maple fields is unclear.

    Full development of the gasfields is understood to involve a multi-billion-dollar investment, with PTT previously canvassing a floating LNG development.

    An investment decision had been targeted for 2015 with the first gas scheduled to flow in 2019, but there has been little evidence of progress of late.


    Large global oil and gas companies are believed to be offloading assets in an effort to shed high-cost and low-return assets and reinvest in faster producing assets.


    addition to Montara, PTTEP flagged it would spend at least $US1bn on exploration and development in Australia in the next five years.

    PTTEP Australasia chief executive Ken Fitzpatrick said in January that the company expected Montara to produce up to 35,000 barrels of oil a day.

    Karoon is trying to sell stakes in a range of early-stage projects in three oceans, with interests off the coasts of Western Australia, Brazil and Peru up for grabs.

    Its move to partner with international energy giants was flagged by The Australian last year.

    Santos, which this decade sold the Evans Shoal and Petrel/Tern assets in the Timor Sea for more than $500m, would not comment on whether it was selling Mereenie.

  13. "I'll ride him harder than Black Caviar" ?

    Troy gets a too easy ride and ....


    Former WA treasurer Troy Buswell's staff were "keeping an eye" on their boss's drinking habits in the lead up to a crash involving his ministerial car, Premier Colin Barnett has said.

    Mr Buswell resigned as both treasurer and transport minister earlier this month, hours before reports began to emerge of the crash in the early hours of February 23.

    Police are investigating a trail of damage to cars and gardens through Mr Buswell's home suburb of Subiaco on the night of the crash.

    The Premier has told News Limited that while he was aware of Mr Buswell's drinking, he had not confronted him about it.

    "I was aware sometimes Troy did drink too much and some of the people around him, his staff, were keeping an eye on that," he said.


    .............a trail of damage to CARS and GARDENS........???


    Tony Abbott's pre-budget fortnight of blunders and stuff-ups

    .............But this week, it was the Abbott government which turned its back on mainstream opinion to pander to a couple of mouthy conservative commentators wanting to legalise hate speech, a cloister of protected banks wanting to reintroduce skimming, and a tiny cluster of 19th century monarchists.

    Little wonder the Prime Minister has been ashen-faced in parliament this week.

  14. Whale sets new mammal depth record

    CUVIER'S beaked whale has set a new deep diving record for a sea mammal by plunging around three kilometres below the ocean surface.

    The creature was one of eight whales studied off the coast of southern California whose movements were tracked by satellite-linked tags.

    Scientists recorded a total of 1100 deep dives averaging 1.4km in depth.

    The deepest was one that descended a distance of around 3.2km, and the longest lasted 137 minutes.

    The dives broke the current records for sea mammals set by the southern elephant seal of 2.4km and 120 minutes.

    At a depth of three kilometres, the water pressure is equal to 320 atmospheres.

    Lead scientist Dr Gregory Schorr, from the Cascadia Research Collective, a non-profit organisation based in Washington, US, that studies marine mammals, said it was remarkable to imagine the social, warm-blooded mammals actively pursuing prey in the darkness at such astounding depths, "literally miles away from their most basic physiological need: air".

    Cuvier's beaked whales are distributed around the world, and are famous for their diving ability.



    Santos, AGL sign deal not to drill

    Matt Chambers |
    The Australian |
    March 29, 2014

    THE east coast's onshore gas industry is split over a decision by Santos and AGL Energy to forfeit their legal right to access land in NSW against the wishes of farmers who do not want coal-seam gas drilling on their land.

    As foreshadowed in The Australian, Santos and AGL executives yesterday signed a pledge to farming groups not to enter land for CSG drilling where the landholder does not want them to.

    The move has angered some onshore gas players who are worried the development in NSW, where community and government have been against CSG development, will be set a precedent for other states.

    In Australia, underground resources are owned by the crown, and landholders can be prosecuted if they do not provide access.

    While rarely resorted to, the threat gives gas companies bargaining power when talking to landholders about compensation for access.

    The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association went to ground on the issue yesterday, illustrating the rift the surprise announcement has sparked among its members.

    The agreed principles of land access were signed by Santos and AGL and industry groups NSW Farmers, Cotton Australia and the NSW Irrigators Council at NSW Parliament House.

    It is understood the NSW government pushed hard to get Santos and AGL to make the public commitment, despite both companies already having internal policies not to drill on land against landholders' wishes. Queensland Greens senator Larissa Waters praised the work of anti-CSG activists and called for similar action in other states.

    "This is a well-deserved win for the passionate, dedicated communities and Lock The Gate who have been standing up against coal-seam gas to protect land and water," Senator Waters said.

    She called on the Abbott government to give farmers the rights to protect their land nationally, saying rural communities in Western Australia, South Australia and Tasmania needed rights to protect their livelihoods.

    In NSW, CSG operators were banned from large areas last year, while last week a six-month moratorium new CSG exploration licences was announced.

    The land access deal is expected to make things easier for AGL and Santos when dealing with the NSW government.

    NSW Farmers chief executive Matt Brand said the agreement went a long way towards reducing distrust in rural communities.

    NSW Resources and Energy Minister Anthony Roberts said the agreement formally recognised the rights of landholders.

    "The agreed principles show that there are reputable, professional and capable companies that can responsibly develop natural gas resources in NSW while recognising the importance of respecting, communicating and working with communities," Mr Roberts said.

  16. The Green Tape


    Great Barrier Reef and Indigenous heritage laws face 'one-stop shop' threat

    Decision over dumping of material in the Reef could be handed to Queensland under Coalition’s plan to cut ‘green tape’

    The government may delegate oversight for the dumping of material in the Great Barrier Reef marine park and potentially bypass Indigenous heritage laws in order to speed up environmental approvals.

    In a submission to a parliamentary inquiry into “green tape”, the Department of the Environment said it was looking at current legislation that may complicate plans to create “one-stop shops” for approvals.

    The government is in the process of delegating environmental approvals to the states and territories under the one-stop shops plan.

    Dr Kimberley Dripps, deputy secretary at the Department of the Environment, told the committee of MPs that the government was “actively analysing” the Sea Dumping Act’s impact on the new regime.

    This could mean decision-making for the dumping of materials into the Great Barrier Reef marine park being stripped from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and handed to the Queensland government.

    In January, the GBRMPA approved the dumping of 5m tonnes of sediment into the marine park, despite internal documents showing it had reservations over the plan.

    Dripps said the government was working with the GBRMPA over “whether any changes ought to be made to make sure that people are not having a one-stop shop for the [Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation] EPBC Act and then running into the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act”.

    “I would expect as we progress with the negotiations that there may be others that we encounter. As we encounter them we are looking at whether it is necessary for them to exist.”

    Dripps added that legislation protecting Indigenous heritage was also being scrutinised because it could potentially hold up activities such as mining.

    “The only [heritage act] with the potential to interfere with government’s objectives of the one-stop shop is the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act which does allow people to appeal to the minister for long periods of time,” Dripps said.

    The one-stop shops are designed to streamline the environmental process, which currently involves approvals from states and, in some cases, the federal government. The government has said the new system will deliver greater certainty to businesses.

    Labor, the Greens and environmental groups are against the devolvement of powers, however, claiming that the states cannot be trusted to safeguard the environment.

    “This is an incredibly concerning prospect,” said Greens senator Larissa Waters.

    “It would mean that [Queensland premier] Campbell ‘we’re in the coal business’ Newman would have the final say over whether dredge spoil can be dumped in the Reef for the five new or expanded coal ports proposed for the reef.

    “Tony Abbott is intent on handing over federal environmental approval responsibilities to his state cronies, which would wind back environment protection in Australia by 30 years.

    “Now the Abbott government has the department looking into whether even the responsibilities of a federal statutory body, in place to protect the Great Barrier Reef, could be handed to the Queensland government.”

    David Morris, principal solicitor at the Northern Territory Environmental Defenders Office, said any change to Indigenous heritage laws would be concerning.

    “I can’t see any review mechanisms in the legislation that would create lengthy delays,” he told Guardian Australia. “We shouldn’t be amending an act on the basis of its ability to create delays. We shouldn’t be streamlining this.

    “This is a safeguard for Aboriginal people, who have a special connection to land and country. They should have the right to have their say on anything that would impact that.

    “States and territories collect mining royalties, so there’s in an inherent conflict in allowing them to run the environmental approvals as well.”

  17. White House opens door to new rules to cut methane emissions

    Administration to study magnitude of leaks from methane before deciding in autumn whether to propose new oil and gas controls

    .......................There are big political risks in taking on America's powerful oil and natural gas interests.

    Obama has embraced “natural gas” as part of his all-of-the-above energy strategy, arguing that the shale revolution would help move the US away from more heavily polluting coal. But there is growing evidence methane leaks are far more pervasive than originally thought.

    Methane is escaping into the atmosphere from all along the supply chain – from flaring gas wells that light up the night sky in North Dakota to ageing pipes in the north-east.

    A study published by the National Academy of Sciences last November found that the Environmental Protection Agency had grossly under-estimated methane releases from gas drilling.

    Ninety environmental groups wrote to the EPA last December demanding the agency introduce new regulations on the oil and gas industry.

    Methane pollution is projected to increase to a level equivalent to over 620 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution in 2030 without additional action to reduce emissions.

    The White House said the EPA would propose new rules for future landfills in the summer of 2014, and was considering new regulations on existing landfills.

    The Department of Energy will meanwhile begin exploring the potential of capturing and storing methane in underground waste dumps.


    IPCC report: climate change felt 'on all continents and across the oceans'

    Leaked text of blockbuster report says changes in climate have already caused impacts on natural and human systems

    ...................The biggest potential risk, however, was of a number of those scenarios unfolding at the same time, leading to conflicts and wars, or turning regional problem into a global crisis, said Saleemul Haq, a senior fellow of the International Institute for Environment and Development and one of the authors of the report.

    "The really scary impacts are when things start getting together globally," he said. "If you have a crisis in two or three places around the world, suddenly it's not a local crisis. It is a global crisis, and the repercussions of things going bad in several different places are very severe."

    There was controversy in the run-up to the report's release when one of the 70 authors of a draft said he had pulled out of the writing team because it was "alarmist" about the threat. Prof Richard Tol, an economist at Sussex University, said he disagreed with some findings of the summary. But British officials branded his assessment of the economic costs of climate change as "deeply misleading".

    The report argues that the likelihood and potential consequences of many of these risks could be lowered if ambitious action is taken to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change. It also finds that governments – if they act now – can help protect populations from those risks.

    But the report also acknowledges that a certain amount of warming is already locked in, and that in some instances there is no way to escape the effects of climate change.

  18. Africa’s biggest dam ‘close to collapse’

    FEARS of a humanitarian disaster are growing as engineers warn Africa's mighty Kariba dam, opened by the Queen Mother in 1960, has developed severe structural faults.

    A collapse would unleash about 180 billion tonnes of water from the largest man-made lake on the continent, sweeping thousands of hippos and crocodiles into an area of Zambia that is home to 3.5 million people.

    The torrent, which would engulf the capital, Lusaka, could then roar on into Mozambique and Malawi. Much of southern Africa, which depends upon the dam's turbines for electricity, would be plunged into darkness.

    “We are told by engineers that if nothing is done in the next three years the dam may be swept away,” Felix Nkulukusa, the permanent secretary at the Zambian Finance Ministry, said this month.

    A Zimbabwean engineer at the dam said the vibrations were “downright scary” when the floodgate was opened to allow water to be discharged after heavy rains. “You can hear and feel the dam wall vibrate.”

    Adding to the problem is a risk of earthquakes.

    At least $US250 million ($270m) is needed for repairs.

    However, Robert Mugabe’s regime in Zimbabwe has kicked out the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and anyone else who might lend the money.

  19. Exxon Mobil's response to climate change is consummate arrogance

    As scientists laid bare the impacts of climate change, the oil and gas giant said climate policies are highly unlikely to stop it digging up fossil fuels. So what are we going to do about it?

    .................The company said that government restrictions that would force it to keep its reserves in the ground were “highly unlikely,” and that they would not only dig them all up and burn them, but would continue to search for more gas and oil — a search that currently consumes about $100 million of its investors’ money every single day. “Based on this analysis, we are confident that none of our hydrocarbon reserves are now or will become ‘stranded,’” they said.


    Climate change will 'lead to battles for food', says head of World Bank

    Jim Yong Kim urges campaigners and scientists to work together to form a coherent plan in the fight against climate change

    .............."The water issue is critically related to climate change. People say that carbon is the currency of climate change. Water is the teeth. Fights over water and food are going to be the most significant direct impacts of climate change in the next five to 10 years. There's just no question about it.


    The toxic truth about air pollution: a lethal scandal of British inaction

    The 'Saharan' smog is a crisis of our own making. But don't expect ministers to do anything sensible like restricting traffic on the roads

    ..............Slowly, it is dawning on people that the risks from air pollution are far greater than previously thought or understood. Last week, the extremely cautious World Health Organisation revised its figures and reported that nearly one in eight of the world's deaths – more than 7 million people a year – are now the direct result of air pollution, and that for every person who dies, there are many more whose health is impaired long term. Put bluntly: every year air pollution kills more people than Aids, smoking, road accidents and diabetes combined, and is the world's single biggest environmental health risk.


    Australian government may ban environmental boycotts

    Parliamentary secretary says there is 'an appetite' for removing environmental groups' exemption from secondary boycotts ban

    ..................Coalition MPs and industry groups are using a review of competition laws to push for a ban on campaigns against companies on the grounds that they are selling products that damage the environment, for example by using old-growth timber or overfished seafood.

    The parliamentary secretary for agriculture, Richard Colbeck, said the backbench rural committee and “quite a number in the ministry” want to use the review to remove an exemption for environmental groups from the consumer law ban on so-called “secondary boycotts”.

    “I do think there is an appetite in the government for changing these laws,” Colbeck said.

    The exemption also applies to campaigns related to “consumer protection” but Colbeck said he would not be seeking to change that provision.

    The government announced last week a “root and branch review” of competition policy headed by the economist Professor Ian Harper.

    Groups including the Australian Forest Products Association and parts of the seafood industry are also preparing submissions to the review arguing that environmental campaigns against companies selling products made from native timbers or “unsustainable” fishing amount to a “secondary boycott” and should be unlawful.

  20. Saturday, September 22, 2012 - Hands off Country


    Gladstone has been an industrial port for several decades now. And there's evidence from other ports in the world that marine life can get sick if the heavy metals and mud are stirred up from the sea floor of harbours like this. So here's the question - could all the dredging that's going on here to expand the port cause disease in fish and crabs?

    One one side of Port Curtis, a deeper channel is being dug for six new terminals to load giant ships with coal seam gas. The dredged mud is pumped behind a bund wall to reclaim more than 200 hectares of land for the Gladstone Ports Corporation. The rest of the mud is dumped outside the harbour, into the Coral Sea. Fish veterinarian, Dr Matt Landos believes marine life is being contaminated.

    Dredge volumes proposed at James Price Point had to be revised from 21 million cubic metres to 34 million cubic metres of material, with dredging activities estimated to be an ongoing battle for years because some of the largest tides in the world are experienced at James Price Point.


    Wednesday 2 April 2014 - The Guardian

    Sea turtles were killed by Gladstone harbour dredging, university says

    James Cook researchers contradict Queensland government's finding on damage to marine life

    The controversial expansion of Gladstone harbour probably killed dozens of sea turtles, according to a report that contradicts the Queensland government’s analysis of the deaths.

    The research, conducted by James Cook University, found that the dredging of Gladstone harbour to increase its capacity so it can handle liquefied natural gas exports caused metals to be dispersed from the seabed, contributing to an “unusually large number of turtle strandings and mortalities”.

    Following the discovery of dead and dying fish with lesions on them in 2011, a state government investigation found the primary cause was unprecedented flooding, which brought pollutants into the harbour.

    However, the study by the Townsville university said that analyses of blood from captured turtles found high doses of arsenic, cobalt, mercury and nickel. Examinations of 56 green turtles found the presence of various infections.

    The report states: “It is likely that the elevated metal levels found in stranded turtles resulted from metals mobilised through dredging and the leakage of the bunded area into which dredged spoil was placed.”


    In addition to the pollutant risk, the study found that the Gladstone harbour expansion has heightened the risk of vessels hitting turtles. In total, around 15% of turtles found stranded on the Queensland coast displayed evidence of being hit by boats or propellers.

    The report said there was a worrying spike in turtle strandings in 2011, with the species under threat from pollutants and cyclones which destroy seagrass, its primary food source. Government data shows there were 919 strandings in Queensland last year.

    Turtles have been discovered with large external tumours, with many starving to death due to a lack of suitable seagrass.

    “International evidence suggests that intensification of coastal development heightens the risk that marine turtles will become exposed to environmental pollutants,” the report states.

    “Good progress has been made towards understanding and managing human threats to marine turtles in the Great Barrier Reef such as vessel strike, net entanglement and marine debris.

    “Concerns remain. however, that understanding the processes and consequences to turtles from less visible types of threat has progressed comparatively slowly.”

    Julie Traweek, project manager at the Sea Turtle Foundation, told Guardian Australia that the species faced a number of threats, including climate change, which causes sea level rises that may wash away low-lying turtle beach nests.

    “Up the cape, abandoned ghost nets are a big problem, whereas in Moreton Bay it’s boat strikes,” she said. “We see a lot of turtles that are emaciated and have heavy parasite loads.

  21. BP said last year the Gulf had returned to it's former pristine condition.

    Of course it was all lies - as usual.


    Report: 'Oil is not gone; impacts to wildlife ongoing’

    Report examines BP oil spill effects 4 years later


    April 08, 2014

    Dying dolphins, bluefin tuna embryos with heart defects and hundreds of dead sea turtles washing ashore are proof the BP oil spill is still hurting and killing wildlife four years after the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the National Wildlife Federation claims in a new report.

    The report, “Four Years into the Gulf Oil Disaster: Still Waiting for Restoration,” includes a compilation of research so far about impacts of the oil disaster on 14 species around the Gulf of Mexico.

    “Determining what the impacts are is really very difficult,” said Doug Inkley, National Wildlife Federation senior scientist.

    In addition, much of the research being done on the oil’s impacts to wildlife and ecosystems remains confidential as part of the Natural Resource Damage Assessment process and pending legal actions.

    Still, some research released over the past several years shows the spill has had developmental effects on species such as killifish and, most recently, in the embryonic development of bluefin tuna.

    “Now, four years into the Gulf oil disaster, wildlife is still feeling the impact,” Inkley said. “The oil is not gone and the impacts to wildlife are ongoing.”

    It’s likely, he added, the impact will be seen for years to come. He noted that some species have yet to recover even after 25 years since the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska.

    BP representatives dispute many of the report’s findings, saying the group “cherry picks” information and reports to support the organization’s agenda.

    One example, Jason Ryan, BP America Inc. press officer, wrote in an emailed response to the report, is how the report “misrepresents the U.S. government’s investigation into dolphin deaths.”

    He said the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s own website states that inquiry is ongoing and that a number of potential causes are being investigated for the dolphin deaths.

    Ryan added, “No definitive cause has yet been identified for the increase in strandings in the northern Gulf that began months before the accident.”

    He said the National Wildlife Federation’s report also ignores other scientific reports that show no impact from the spill, such as a study by Auburn University showing no evidence of spill impact on young red snapper populations off Alabama.

    The National Wildlife Federation report examined the observed effects to bottlenose dolphins, bluefin tuna, blue crab, brown pelican, common loon, coral, eastern oyster, foraminifera, Gulf killifish, red snapper, seaside sparrow, sea turtle, sperm whale and white pelican.

    On the top of the food chain, dolphins continue to show higher than normal mortality. In 2013, they were still stranding at three times the average annual rate before the spill, according to the report.

  22. Report: 'Oil is not gone; impacts to wildlife ongoing’

    NOAA started investigating the higher than normal mortality levels in February 2010, before the oil spill occurred.

    However, in a study released last year that examined dolphins in Barataria Bay, researchers found that almost half of the animals they examined were in bad health.

    Researchers found that dolphins examined in 2011 were five times more likely than counterparts in unoiled areas to have moderate to severe lung disease, many of the dolphins in the oiled area were underweight and had low levels of hormones that help control response to stress.

    After testing the dolphins for contamination from sources other than the oil spill, they didn’t find any other potential cause for the health problems.

    NOAA released a study in March that found bluefin tuna embryo exposed to Deepwater Horizon oil collected at the time of the spill can cause heart deformities leading to immediate death or to shorter life spans if the fish survive.

    Ryan, the BP spokesman, disputed that enough information was included in the NOAA study to conclude that exposure to oil in the Gulf of Mexico would have the same impact found in laboratory testing.

    An iconic image of wildlife impact from the Deepwater Horizon disaster was that of oiled brown pelicans, some of which were captured and taken to special de-oiling facilities.

    Although there were a number of success stories of brown pelicans being released to the wild, there were many more birds that died and even more that were never found.

    According to the National Wildlife Federation report, 826 brown pelicans were collected in the oil spill area as of May 2011, many of which were found after they were dead.

    “Nonetheless, the size of brown pelican populations, even in heavily-oiled areas, may not have been dramatically affected,” according to the report.

    Although federal agencies are also looking into possible impacts, the information about that is not publicly available yet, according to the report.

    Sea turtle strandings also remain above average and about 500 turtle carcasses a year were found along the Gulf Coast between 2011 and 2013.

    However, the report cautioned, it’s hard to tell how far above normal those numbers are since many of the turtles were found in remote areas where they wouldn’t have been reported at all before the spill. NOAA scientists estimated that fewer than 100 of the dead sea turtles would have been found per year before the spill.

    “Despite what the oil company would have us believe, the impacts are ongoing,” said Sara Gonzalez-Rothi, the National Wildlife Federation’s senior policy specialist for Gulf and coastal restoration.

  23. Something else that may never be cleaned up.


    ERA told: Clean up Ranger uranium mine site and clear out rather than shifting underground

    Public health experts have joined traditional owners and environmentalists in calling for Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) to focus on land rehabilitation rather than expansion of its Ranger uranium mine in the Northern Territory.

    The company's latest report shows that despite operations being suspended at the site since a toxic leak last year, plans to mine uranium underground continue.

    ERA is holding its annual general meeting in Darwin today.

    NT branch secretary of the Public Health Association of Australia, Dr Michael Fonda, says underground uranium mining poses serious health risks.

    "One of the main things that is concerning us is that they [miners] are going to be exposed to dangerous levels of radon gas," he said.

    Dr Fonda says ERA has a troubling safety record and it cannot be trusted to ensure safe work practices for the underground uranium mining.

    "What is being planned for the R3 Deep's expansion is for very large extraction fans to take much of that radon [gas] out of the mine," he said.

    "I am concerned, and the Public Health Association is concerned, that will not be enough."

    Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) national nuclear campaigner Dave Sweeney says ERA should focus on land rehabilitation in the final years of its mining lease.

    "Realise this is high risk and low return," he said.

    "Instead of accepting the inevitable and cleaning up and exiting, and having a staged and a costed and managed rehabilitation of the Ranger site, ERA is increasingly desperate and is chasing the illusion of dollars by going underground with the Ranger 3-Deep project."

    Mr Sweeney says ERA and its parent company Rio Tinto should realise the planned underground mine is high risk and low return.

    Indigenous traditional owners have expressed concerns that ERA will not have enough money to follow through on rehabilitation plans for the mine, which is near Jabiru and inside the boundaries of Kakadu National Park.

  24. WHY does everyone want a Supply Base in Darwin?
    Because Browse isn't the only gas field north of Oz.


    WA Premier Colin Barnett urges energy sector urged to think local to deliver projects

    .....................“You spend a lot of time as an industry getting your social licence.

    “Stop reading those American management books, think a bit broader, think in the context of where you are in the world.”

    It was important the industry continued to support local communities, but the industry's ultimate “social licence” was to align with national and state governments, he said.

    “That's the licence that counts, that's the one you must secure to develop Australia's natural resources,” Mr Barnett said.

    His comments come after Perth-based oil and gas company Woodside Petroleum in 2013 scrapped plans for an onshore processing plant for its Browse project.

    It is instead pursuing a floating liquefied natural gas option.

    The decision raised the ire of Mr Barnett who lamented the loss of local jobs.

    He says the WA government will only renew its retention lease for around 15 per cent of the project if Woodside agrees to build a supply base in a preferred location, and secure domestic gas supply.

    Woodside chairman Michael Chaney told the APPEA conference Perth was poised to become the global centre of FLNG technology, and governments had an equally important role to play in ensuring Australia remains a reliable supplier of LNG.

    “Australia would not be in the position it is today, poised to become the largest LNG exporter in the world, were it not for the West Australian and Australian governments,” Mr Chaney said.

    Mr Chaney noted there had been a “genuinely symbiotic relationship” between the government and industry several decades ago, when Richard Court was WA Premier and Woodside was chaired by its founder Geoff Donaldson.


    08 April 2014

    The Giles Government is working with Shell to maximise the Territory’s share of an estimated $200 million in support contracts for the company’s Prelude project each year.

    “The Prelude floating LNG project in the Browse Basin presents significant opportunities for lucrative maintenance contracts and I have been lobbying hard for Territory companies to get a large slice of the pie,” Chief Minister Adam Giles said.

    Mr Giles and the Mines Minister Willem Westra van Holthe met with Shell at the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) Conference in Perth to receive an update on the project and its Darwin Onshore Supply Base.

    “Shell’s $25 million Onshore Supply Base at the East Arm Industrial Business Park is due for completion mid-way through this year,” Mr Giles said.

    “This warehouse will store spare parts and receive most of the equipment requiring servicing from Prelude after it comes through the Marine Supply Base at the Port. Equipment will then be sent to workshops in Darwin or interstate.

    “During our meetings, Shell has expressed a desire to keep the bulk of this work in Darwin and we are working with the company to make this happen.

    “This is fantastic for local maintenance companies and a huge opportunity as we work to develop Northern Australia as an energy hub.”

    Shell Australia will require around 200 contracts to support the Prelude FLNG facility for approximately 25 years of operations. These contracts will be awarded over the next two years with $200 million to be spent in Australia each year of operations.

    “Darwin’s capacity to do this work is growing fast with the Darwin LNG Project at Wickham Point now well established and the Ichthys Project now taking shape at Bladin Point,” Mr Westra van Holthe said.

    “The Territory Government is currently completing a gap analysis to see what further work is needed to maximise the local Darwin maintenance spend.”

    The Prelude FLNG facility is the largest structure that will ever be sent to sea.

    Stretching 488 meters long and 74 meters wide, it will weigh more than 600,000 tonnes when fully ballasted.

  26. APPEA Greets Changes to NT Build Scheme

    Posted on Apr 8th, 2014

    The oil and gas industry has welcomed changes to the NT Build scheme announced by the Northern Territory Government.

    The changes were unveiled by the Minister for Mines and Energy Willem Westra van Holthe at the APPEA 2014 annual conference and exhibition in Perth.

    APPEA Chief Executive David Byers said: “The reforms will help make the Northern Territory more attractive for new investment in oil and gas and other industries.

    “The scheme imposes a levy on projects to provide long-service benefits to construction workers. In its current form, the cost to companies far exceeds the benefits to workers.

    “The changes proposed by the NT Government for major projects will reduce the scheme’s cost to business while improving workers’ entitlements.

    “This is a win-win outcome for everyone because more investment in the Territory means more jobs.

    “Chief Minister Adam Giles and his Government should be applauded for listening to industry and for recognising that action needs to be taken to address high construction costs if the Territory is to continue to attract the capital needed for big oil and gas projects.

    “APPEA looks forward to working with the NT Government to ensure the changes are implemented and do not disadvantage existing projects.”


    UTEC Secures Ichthys Contract

    Posted on Apr 8th, 2014

    UTEC Survey (Australia) said that it has been awarded a pipelay support survey and positioning contract in Australia.

    The contract was awarded to UTEC by Saipem and involves the provision of offshore survey and positioning services during the pre-lay, lay and post-lay installation of a 42-inch-diameter, 889 kilometre long pipeline which will connect the Ichthys LNG Project’s offshore central processing facility situated some 200km off the coast of Western Australia with its onshore gas processing plant near Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory.

    To be installed in water depths up to 275 meters, the pipeline is the longest subsea gas pipeline in the Southern hemisphere and the fifth longest in the world.

    Offshore activity will commence in May 2014 and it will see UTEC providing survey and positioning services on a range of Saipem-owned and chartered vessels. Pre-lay survey works will be carried out from the Go Explorer, which will also provide touch-down monitoring support to the pipelay barges. The Semac-1 will start pipelay at the Darwin end and lay approximately 150km of the 42-inch pipe before Saipem’s fourth generation pipelay vessel Castorone takes over to complete the pipelay out to the Ichthys field.

  27. It's an unfolding story that is gathering pace - and the news shows why Barnett is so pissed off.


    Conoco drilling may spark LNG expansion Join our daily free Newsletter

    MENAFN - - 4/9/2014

    Menafn - The Australian Financial Review - ABIX via COMTEX)
    Conoco drilling may spark LNG expansion

    Apr 09, 2014 (Menafn - The Australian Financial Review - ABIX via COMTEX) --ConocoPhillips will soon start a drilling campaign off the coast of northern Australia. Gas resources from the Caldita-Barossa fields in the Timor Sea could be used in an expansion of its LNG plant in Darwin. Todd Creeger, president of ConocoPhillips Australia, also said that the drilling results from the Poseidon fields in the Browse Basin were encouraging.

    Publication Date: 10 April 2014


    Copyright 2014 LexisNexis Australia. All Rights Reserved.



    News archive | Media releases

    Global energy hub focused on Northern Australia

    Posted: 9 April 2014

    The Territory Government has presented the case for the development of Northern Australia as an international energy hub at the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest oil and gas conference this week. Chief Minister Adam Giles and the Minister for Mines and Energy Willem Westra Van Holthe have both attended the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) Conference in Perth, which attracts the world’s most important energy players.

    In Perth, Mr Giles and Mr Westra Van Holthe met with a range of companies including ConocoPhillips, GDF Suez, CIVMEC, Total, Eni and Shell. “The Territory now has runs on the board with the successful Darwin LNG project at Wickham Point now well established and the Ichthys LNG project at Blaydin Point now underway. In Perth, we’ve been speaking to a range of other companies about following in their footsteps,” Mr Westra Van Holthe said.

    Darwin’s oil and gas infrastructure is also expanding with the Marine Supply Base set to open later this year and presenting new opportunities for the maintenance of offshore equipment. “In our meetings with Shell in particular, I’m discussing opportunities for Territory companies to secure early contracts for work on the company’s Prelude Floating LNG project,” Mr Giles said. Onshore, the Territory is estimated to have potential reserves of unconventional gas totalling approximately 240 trillion cubic feet across six basins.

  28. Royal Commission into child sex abuse struggles to find Kimberley people to testify

    ................"Sexual abuse happened on the mission pretty common. Especially in the dormitories, there was sexual abuse going on there," he said.

    The 51-year-old plans to tell his story to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse.

    But he is one of only a handful of people from the Kimberley who have expressed interest in doing so.

    Despite six months of visiting bush communities, prisons and hospitals, only a single person from the region has signed up to testify.

    .............. there are many reasons Aboriginal people who suffered in state or church care don't want to talk to the Royal Commission.

    "I think people are a bit wary about government and what's going to come out of the inquiry. Will anyone be compensated, and most importantly, will it prevent further sexual abuse?

    "Will anybody from the church be charged, or people from whatever institution they belonged to?"


    He says adding to the wall of silence is the huge influence the Catholic Church still exerts over Aboriginal communities in the north, with many retaining a genuine affection and loyalty to the nuns that cared for them.

    In other cases, he says it is something more akin to Stockholm Syndrome, where people have a blind loyalty to the Church they grew up with no matter what.

    "The people that have spoken out about abuse in the past, sometimes their own family would turn on them, 'you can't say that about the Church, be quiet'," he said.

    "So that pressure makes it very difficult."

    ...............Last week, Ms Kennedy hosted a public information session in Broome. When the ABC visited, the function room was empty.

    "We have catered for this function, we have two staff who've flown up from Perth, we've booked a room, so there's a lot of cost involved with this," she said.

    "The idea was that we'd find out if there is any interest, and unfortunately it doesn't seem like there is."


    A couple of points this article fails to mention.

    1/ 30 years ago the officer running the Broome police station said to me "......I don't want to know what is going on up there and I have no intention of trying to find out".

    He was talking about child abuse on the Dampier Peninsular.

    2/ Because of this many of the abused became abusers themselves.

    3/ This helped reinforce that it was "ok" to abuse kids - and that if abuse was reported nothing would happen and the person who reported it would be victimised - sometimes by their own family.

    4/ This also led to white paedophiles in Broome being able to abuse kids and be well known for it and get away with it.

    A truly hopeless situation for the kids and the adults who wanted to speak out.

    The church as usual was only too happy to take advantage of these dire situations by covering up all abuse aided by the determination of the police to have nothing to do with it at all.


    For the record where I come from the same went on.
    Kids who ran away or reported abuse were returned to these hell holes by the police - no questions asked.

    The abusers were government employees hired to "look after" the kids,polititions,judges - you name it they were all in on it including Jimmy Saville and his well connected clients which included former PM's and Royalty.

    These kids would never report the horrors they went through for the same reasons Kimberley people wouldn't trust "the system" either.


    Meanwhile the abuse continues and the suicides are blamed on gunga by the abusers that supply the gunga and the Bishop of Broome himself.

    The reign of terror continues aided by the usual suspects.

  29. Rey Considers Proposals for Seismic Survey Over Fitzroy Blocks in WA

    by Rey Resources Ltd.

    Press Release
    Monday, April 14, 2014

    Rey Resources Limited, an Australian energy resources exploration and development firm, referred Monday to an Australia Securities Exchange announcement by Buru Energy Limited Friday April 11 providing an operations update and noting that its 2014 exploration program of prospects along the Ungani trend in Western Australia was under review.

    Buru is the operator of a Joint Venture (JV) over EP457 and EP458, together referred to as the Fitzroy Blocks, in northern Western Australia. Rey holds a 25 percent interest (including a 10 percent free carry to production) in the JV along with Buru (37.5 percent and operator) and Diamond Resources (Fitzroy) (37.5 percent) which is a 100 percent subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corporation (MC).

    The Directors of Rey Resources are considering preliminary proposals for extensive 2D and 3D seismic over the Fitzroy Blocks in 2014. In addition, in the event that the JV decides not to propose a well in the Fitzroy Blocks later in 2014, it is the present intention of Rey to investigate a sole risked well under the terms of the JV agreement. Rey is currently in discussion with external financiers to determine the availability of support for such a project. The financing of the project could take the form of an economic interest in the proposed well or some other agreed structure related to the Fitzroy Blocks.

    The Fitzroy Blocks are believed to be on trend from the Ungani Field which includes the recent Ungani discovery. Around 145 line miles (234 line kilometers) of 2D seismic data was acquired over the Ungani Trend in EP457 in 2013. Processing of seismic data commenced in January 2014 and final processing data was only completed and received from the operator in early April 2014. Final analysis of the seismic data is not yet complete and development of the proposed 2014 work program is not yet finalized.

  30. Rio chief tight-lipped on Ranger mine

    Rio Tinto chief executive Sam Walsh has refused to guarantee that his company will cover the cost of rehabilitating the Ranger uranium mine near Kakadu, building on uncertainty that was created last month by the Rio subsidiary in charge of the mine.

    Energy Resources of Australia - which is 68 per cent owned by Rio - raised eyebrows when it revealed it may need to find new sources of money to meet its rehabilitation commitments for Ranger, which is entirely surrounded by Kakadu National Park.

    Under the Ranger permit, ERA must have rehabilitated the site by 2026, and a review of the rehabilitation strategy in 2013 found the cost would be $603 million on a net present cost basis.

    ERA has $357 million on hand and has ceased mining at Ranger, with the company now exploring for more uranium underground in a bid to find future revenue streams.

    In an unusual move, ERA appeared to link the success of that exploration project - known as Ranger 3 Deeps - to its ability to pay for the rehabilitation of the site.

    "If the Ranger 3 Deeps mine is not developed, in the absence of any other successful development, ERA may require an additional source of funding to fully fund the rehabilitation of the Ranger Project Area,'' the company said in its annual report.

    Such an outcome would be unusual, as miners are typically compelled to pay for the rehabilitation at the end of a mine's life through provisions that are made each year.

    In ERA's case, some rehabilitation is already underway and it maintains a trust with the Australian Government which was holding $63.9 million at December 31.

    When asked at Tuesday night's annual meeting of Rio shareholders in London, Mr Walsh indicated he was in no mood to pick up the tab for ERA, particularly after Rio took part in a $500 million equity raising for the company in 2011.

    "There was a rights issue at ERA to fund the rehabilitation work and those funds are still sitting within that business," said Mr Walsh..............

  31. Uranium workers dying after time at Namibia mine, report warns

    Miners who dug ore to supply the military found to be dying of cancers and other illnesses at Rio Tinto's Rössing mine

    Miners who dug uranium ore that supplied the British and US military in the 1970s with the raw material for bombs and civil nuclear power are reported to be dying of cancers and unexplained illnesses after working in one of Africa's largest mines.

    A study based on questionnaires of current and former workers at the giant Rio Tinto-owned Rössing uranium mine in Namibia says that everyone questioned was aware of people who are now suffering lung infections and unknown illnesses thought to be linked to their work.

    The mine, in the Namib desert, produces around 7% of the world's uranium but was operated with rudimentary safety when it opened in 1976. "People get sick. We are seeing it in people that have worked for Rössing for a long time. They just go back and die after working at Rössing," one man told researchers working with Earthlife Namibia and the Labour Resource and Research Institute.

    The study, which is expected to be published this week, accepts that working conditions in the mine have greatly improved but says that all workers questioned said that they were exposed to high levels of dust.

    "Two current workers are on sick leave since 2000 and 2003. One worked as a laboratory technician for 24 years and claims to have proof he was radiated," says a summary of the paper seen by the Guardian.

    Rössing, which mines millions of tonnes of rock a year to extract uranium, employs more than 1,500 people. "Most workers stated that they are not informed about their health conditions and do not know if they have been exposed to radiation or not. Some workers said they consulted a private doctor to get a second opinion," say the authors.

    "The older workers all said they know miners dying of cancers and other illnesses. Many of these are now retired and many have already died of cancers," says the report.

    A spokesman for Rio Tinto said that Rössing has been recognised by independent consultants as one of the world's safest mines. "The health and safety of our employees is the top priority. We have health management systems in place to make sure that everyone goes home safe and healthy every day. Effective controls ensure that radiation exposures to employees are kept well below the Rössing standard for occupational radiation exposure.

    "The company keeps detailed records of the health status of its workforce from the day of employment to the day they leave the company. It therefore does not need to speculate on health issues of its employees."

    One former worker said: "Yes, I have cancer now. In the beginning they [Rio Tinto] did not want to give money for the treatment but later when they referred me to a doctor for an operation they gave me money for treatment."

    "Doctors were told not to inform us with our results or tell our illness. They only supply you with medications when you are totally finished up or about to die," said another.

    During the first years of operation, Rössing operated with a migrant labour system which the International Commission of Jurists declared illegal and said was similar to slavery. Black workers lived on the mine premises and were exposed to dust and radiation 24 hours a day and the mine became the focus for protests by anti-apartheid and anti-nuclear groups.

    Shares in the mine are owned 69% by UK-based Rio Tinto, and 15% by the government of Iran. The Namibian government has denied supplying Iran with Namibian uranium which could be used for nuclear weapons.............

  32. Rio Tinto heavily blamed by protesters over 41 mine worker deaths

    Global trade union IndustriAll accuses Anglo-Australian firm of 'very wide breaches of fundamental rights' in failure over safety

    Protesters and unions from around the world heavily criticise mining company Rio Tinto on Tuesday over alleged lapses in safety leading to the deaths of 41 people and a string of claimed environmental abuses.

    Global trade union IndustriAll, which represents 50 million industrial workers across the world, accused Rio of "very wide breaches of fundamental rights" and said the Anglo-Australian mining company could have done more to prevent the 41 deaths last year.

    Kemal Özkan, assistant general secretary of IndustriAll, said the deaths of 33 gold miners when a tunnel collapsed at a Rio joint venture mine in Indonesia last May could have been avoided.

    He claimed that the Indonesian human rights commission found that the operators of the Grasberg mine, owned with US company Freeport, "had the ability to prevent this from happening but didn't".

    "The lack of effort jeopardised the lives of others. The gravity of this case is serious," he quoted Indonesian human rights commissioner Natalius Pigai as saying in a report into the incident.

    Jan du Plessis, Rio's chairman, described the Indonesian deaths as a "tragedy" and said the company was doing all it could to improve safety. "We've got to be [by far] one of the leaders in this field [safety]," he said at the company's annual meeting in London.

    He admitted that the Grasberg mine, the world's largest gold mine, was "far from perfection". But said Rio's board believed both safety and environmental issues would not be improved by the company pulling out of the operation in Papua.

    Well-known private shareholder John Farmer said it was unacceptable for the company to "gloss over 33 deaths just because it [the mine] is managed by someone else".

    A company spokesman later said: "Rio Tinto does not manage the Grasberg operation, but we do not stand aside when fatalities occur. We are working with Freeport, the managers of the mine on safety, as well as community, human rights and other issues."

    Native Papuan people protesting against the Grasberg mine, which has also been at the centre of alleged environmental abuses, were joined by others complaining about alleged human right and environmental abuses in Madagascar, Australia, Namibia and the US.

    Perle Zafinandro, the leader of a community protest group against Rio's majority-owned coastal forest mine in Madagascar, accused the company of "land grabbing and environmental devastation".

    Sam Walsh, Rio's chief executive, apologised for poor communication and promised better engagement with local people. He said the level of compensation for people displaced by the QIT Madagascar Minerals mine was negoitated by the Madagscar government, which owns 20% of the mine, not Rio.

    Walsh also committed to "turning the area back to what it was" and has employed a "team running a [plant] nursery to be able to fully rehabitualise the area".

    Zafiandro said: "How are you going to get these trees to grow on the dead sands left behind?"....................

  33. Surge in deaths of environmental activists over past decade, report finds

    Investigation by Global Witness reveals there were nearly three times as many deaths in 2012 than 10 years previously

    The killing of activists protecting land rights and the environment has surged over the past decade, with nearly three times as many deaths in 2012 than 10 years previously, a new report has found.

    Deadly Environment, an investigation by London-based Global Witness documents 147 recorded deaths in 2012, compared to 51 in 2002. Between 2002 and 2013, at least 908 activists were killed in 35 countries – with only 10 convictions. The death rate has risen in the past four years to an average of two activists a week, according to the report, which also documents 17 forced disappearances, all of whom are presumed dead.

    Deaths in 2013 are likely to be higher than the 95 documented to date, the environmental rights organisation warned, with under-reporting and difficulties verifying killings in isolated areas in a number of African and Asian nations. Reports from countries including Central African Republic, Zimbabwe, and Myanmar, where civil society groups are weak and the regimes authoritarian, were not included in the Global Witness count.

    "Many of those facing threats are ordinary people opposing land grabs, mining operations and the industrial timber trade, often forced from their homes and severely threatened by environmental devastation," the report said. Others have been killed for protests over hydroelectric dams, pollution and wildlife conservation.

    Brazil, the report found, is the world's most deadly country for communities defending natural resources, with 448 deaths between 2002 and 2013, followed by 109 in Honduras and Peru with 58. In Asia, the Philippines is the deadliest with 67, followed by Thailand at 16. More than 80% of the recorded deaths were in Latin and Central America.

    There have been only 10 successful prosecutions connected with the killings in Brazil over the past 12 years. Isolete Wichinieski, national coordinator of the Brazilian group Commisão Pastoral da Terra, said: "what feeds the violence is the impunity".

    The investigation unearthed information on perpetrators in just 294 of the 448 deaths, of which 54 were identified as police or military units.

    In Brazil, the Amazon is the main frontier and most violent conflicts take place in newly deforested areas where communities are first confronted by illegal loggers, closely followed by cattle ranchers and soy bean farmers.

    In Honduras, the second most dangerous country, 93 peasant farmers in the fertile Bajo Aguan region have been murdered since 2010 amid land conflicts with agribusinesses expanding African palms plantations that are traded globally on the lucrative carbon credits scheme.

    But the murder of Brazilian ecologists José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva and Maria do Espírito Santo in May 2011 suggests high-profile campaigners are not immune from the violence. Two assassins in this case were convicted.

  34. Surge in deaths of environmental activists over past decade, report finds

    Oliver Courtney, senior campaigner at Global Witness, said: "There can be few starker or more obvious symptoms of the global environmental crisis than a dramatic upturn in killings of ordinary people defending rights to their environment and livelihoods from corporate and state abuse. Yet those responsible almost always get away with it, because governments are failing to protect their citizens and the international community is not paying enough attention to their plight."

    The insatiable global appetite for gold, silver and other minerals is powering extractive industries in countries with weak institutions, and is linked to at least 150 deaths since 2002. This includes 46 extrajudicial killings of demonstrators around mining sites across Peru. There were also deaths linked to protests against contamination, waste disposal and conservation of coastlines and wildlife.

    Indigenous communities are particularly hard hit. Several in Guatemala and Honduras told the Guardian that they were unaware their territory has been sold until machinery and security guards working for mining or hydroelectric companies appeared overnight. Their resistance efforts have been denigrated as anti-development and dozens of community leaders face dubious criminal and civil charges.

  35. One year ago we were celebrating Woodside scrapping their doomed JPP plans -

    one year on the pressure of the ballooning world population continues.

  36. Clive Palmer gets nod for more toxic sludge

    THE Queensland government is permitting Clive Palmer’s nickel refinery to discharge a much higher level of toxicity of contaminated sludge than six months ago.

    Premier Campbell Newman and Environment Minister Andrew Powell have repeatedly insisted a new permit introduced in November was a major step forward in regulating the refinery’s environmental impacts, but analysis by The Australian shows it lets Mr Palmer’s refinery discharge hazardous waste at toxicity levels many times higher into the waters surrounding the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

    The new permit has also given Mr Palmer’s refinery two additional release points from the refinery, at the Alick Creek and Blind Creek mouths.

    The original permit specified only an ocean outfall pipe into Halifax Bay, with permission required on a case-by-case basis from a federal government body, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

    The contaminants ammonia, chromium, cobalt, lead and nickel are among those the refinery is now permitted to release at toxicity levels significantly higher than specified in national water quality guidelines.

    Each of the contaminants is well above the default criteria under Australian and New Zealand Environment Conservation Council guidelines, which underpinned the previous permit.

    The ammonia compliance limit is more than 10 times higher than any council trigger level, while the compliance level for lead is almost three times higher, according to an environmental scientist who examined the limits. He said the compliance limits for chromium, cobalt and nickel were “set at the least stringent level” and would mean acute toxicity or chronic toxicity would be expected in key test species.

    The previous permit specified that the risk of spill from the dams must be less than 1 per cent but this condition has also been removed from the new permit.

    Mr Powell said last night he “rejects outright” that environmental regulation had been weakened. He said the maximum limit for ammonia was “assessed as being adequate to protect the environmental values taking into consideration the characteristics of the receiving environment, the mixing zone and diffusers, the characteristics of the contaminants including ensuring there is no direct toxicity”. He said that the new permit “provides clear, unambiguous, enforceable conditions that must be met” by the refinery. But the changes to the permit mean Mr Palmer’s refinery’s discharges of toxic sludge this week are unlikely to breach the limits set in the new permit.

    Mr Palmer has denied his overflowing tailings dams pose any risk, despite warning two years ago there was an “8 per cent risk the ponds will collapse and cancer-causing tailings will spill into Townsville waterways’’.

    Federal government scientists have described a major discharge from the dams to the ecosystem of Halifax Bay in the World Heritage Area as “similar to the daily discharge of treated sewage from a city of seven million people”.

  37. Gorilla park chief who survived shooting has plenty of enemies

    EMMANUEL De Merode, the Belgian chief warden of Virunga National Park in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, is not short of enemies and the list of suspects in his attempted murder on Tuesday will be long.

    A robust defender of Africa's oldest nature reserve since his appointment in 2008, Mr de Merode, 43, has taken on militias, charcoal barons, poachers, illegal fishermen and, most recently, Soco International, a British company seeking to explore for oil in Virunga.

    The 7,770 sq km UNESCO world heritage site is home to endangered mountain gorillas and has been both the confluence and the crucible of regional conflicts for the past 20 years. Protecting it is a difficult and sometimes deadly task. In the past decade, at least 141 Virunga rangers have been killed, and more wounded.

    Mr de Merode's turn came on Tuesday afternoon when unknown gunmen shot at his car near Kibati, a village on a busy stretch of dirt road between the regional capital, Goma, and the park headquarters in Rumangabo, where he lives.

    Nothing was stolen.

    Mr de Merode was understood to be returning from Goma, where he had handed a file of evidence to the public prosecutor detailing alleged illegal activities in Virunga by associates of Soco International.

    In 2010, SOCO International won a government contract to jointly prospect for oil on a concession overlapping the park's territory, but the Congolese government later suspended the permit under international pressure.

    Francois-Xavier de Donnea, a Belgian politician and board member of the conservation organisation WildlifeDirect, told the Brussels-based newspaper La Libre Belgique that the timing of the attack was “an extremely disturbing coincidence”.

    Mr de Merode was alone and driving himself when he was shot at least twice in the chest and stomach and left for dead. Passing Congolese soldiers took him to a hospital in Goma where he was operated on before being transferred to Nairobi, Kenya, where his family live. He is said to be in a stable condition.

    Rui de Sousa, chairman of Soco International, said that allegations of the company's involvement in the shooting were “completely unfounded, defamatory and highly inappropriate”.

    He added: “Soco condemns the attack on Mr de Merode and expresses its deepest sympathy and concern for him.”

    Mr de Merode was appointed Virunga's chief warden a year after ten gorillas were slaughtered under his predecessor's watch. It is arguably one of the most dangerous jobs in conservation.

    Virunga's armed rangers have often clashed with members of the FDLR, a Rwandan rebel group that earns an estimated $A35 million a year from illegal charcoal production.

    Under Mr de Merode, Belgian and British special forces officers have turned the rangers into a well-trained paramilitary force.

    When the so-called M23 Rwanda-backed rebellion overran part of the park in 2012, Mr de Merode stayed. As he did when Rumangabo became the conflict's front line in July that year and shells and rockets rained on the park headquarters.

    Colleagues said that the attack would not deter efforts to protect Virunga both by force and by fostering sustainable economic activities such as tourism, and agribusiness.

    The Times

  38. Shale gas business in the US is where the money’s gone

    .................there was a more interesting figure disclosed in the quarterly report, and that was the round-about disclosure that development expenditure in the onshore US oil and gas business was running some $US400m over budget.

    BHP reported that at the nine-month mark of the year, it had pumped $US3.4bn in to the onshore US business and that expenditure in the March quarter alone was $US1bn. No drama there, was the message from BHP, because the March quarter was “in-line with our planned annual investment program of approximately $US4bn.’’

    But with at least another $US1bn to be spent in the June quarter, expenditure of $US4.4bn for the full year is not approximately $US4bn.

    ....................massive annual spend in the onshore shale business is all about creating a business that it has previously been said will become self-funding in 2016 before generating some $US3bn in free cash flow in 2020, and beyond.

    And a clear message from that December briefing was that push in to US onshore had the highest returns and shortest payback compared with just about everything else BHP could invest in. Come 2017, it will be pumping out 500,000 barrels of oil equivalent on a daily basis, of which 200,000 barrels-a-day will be the higher revenue generating liquids production.

    BHP just needs to more upfront about the cost of getting there.


    Wave-hit Ensco rig ‘stable’ - Anadarko

    Anadarko is blaming a “weather front” for a freak wave that lashed a semi-submersible drilling rig on Tuesday in the deep-water Gulf of Mexico, damaging the hull column and flooding the ballast tank.

    Drilling operations on the Ensco 8506 are “temporarily suspended, the rig is stable and the well is secure as assessments are under way”, the US independent confirmed in a statement to Upstream on Wednesday.

    The rig was “conducting exploration activities” for Anadarko in the Nansen field in East Breaks Block 645 when the weather front moved through the area, whipping up 12-foot seas and wind speeds of 20 knots.

    At about 3am on Tuesday, the rig was slammed by a wave, according to the US Coast Guard (USCG). By 10am the 116-person crew called the USCG to report that the rig was taking on water.

    The USCG dispatched an airplane and a cutter to monitor the situation in case an evacuation was called for.

    However, the rig “remained within its operating parameters” according to Anadarko and there were no injuries and no environmental impact.

    Ensco has determined for now that the situation is “stable” and that there is no need to evacuate the 116 people on board the rig, the USCG told Upstream.

    Ensco has not responded to a request for comment.

  39. Work starts on Ichthys supply base

    Wednesday, 16 April 2014

    WORKS have started on the offshore logistics base for Inpex’s Ichthys LNG project.

    Toll, which will operate the base on a 4.5 hectare site at Darwin’s East Arm industrial precinct, is building it.

    The base is expected to be fully operational by early 2015.

    It will remotely support the Inpex-operated Ichthys LNG projects major offshore facilities in the Ichthys field about 820km southwest of Darwin in the Browse Basin.

    Inpex director corporate coordination Hitoshi Okawa said the facilities would play a crucial role in supporting the Ichthys LNG project’s offshore operations.

    “Our central processing facility and floating production, storage and offloading vessel will be two of the biggest pieces of infrastructure in the oil and gas industry,” Okawa said.

    “With an operational life of at least 40 years – without docking – a base that can provide the maintenance, store critical spare parts for these facilities, while also supporting brownfield work is vital to our success.”

    Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles said it was encouraging to see the likes of Toll and Inpex investing in the territory.

    “Not only will this supply base create up to 120,000 man-hours of employment during construction and up to 20 permanent jobs once completed, but it will also create flow-on employment for all of the services that will support the base,” he said.

    “As part of our push for Northern Australia development, the government is working to establish the territory as a central support base for the offshore LNG industry.

    “This project is an important step in that direction.”


    Woodside could move quickly in Canada

    Woodside Petroleum could be forced to move quickly on a growth project in Canada after agreeing a three-year land use deal.

    The company has signed a land access agreement with the British Columbia government to conduct feasibility studies to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility at Grassy Point on the northwest coast of Canada.

    "The agreement is for three years and is subject to Woodside meeting milestones, including making annual payments, obtaining an export licence and commencing environmental approvals processes," Woodside said in a statement on Thursday.

    The Perth-based oil and gas giant said work had started on technical, economic and consultation activities to meet its obligations under the agreement.

    The company is still assessing the feasibility of building an LNG plant in Canada, a year after submitting an expression of interest.

    Macquarie analyst Adrian Wood said the tight timeframe for land access would put pressure on the company to make a decision.

    "That's certainly shorter than I was expecting and that will, perhaps, foster a greater sense of urgency than, perhaps, the market was expecting," Mr Wood told AAP.

    "If it's going to go, it's going to go in the next three years."

    He said Woodside's greater plan for the region was still unclear and a capital injection would not be required as yet.

    The company has slated billions of dollars for two major growth projects, including the stalled Leviathan natural gas project deal in Israel.


    Meanwhile, Woodside said its second major growth project, Browse in northwestern Australia, will be in a position to consider entering front-end engineering and design (FEED) in the second half of 2014.

    Mr Wood said the company had stopped making any material commentary around those growth projects in its quarterly releases.

    "Leviathan very much hangs in the balance," Mr Wood said.

    "It's very much too close to call either way and with Browse they're working towards going into FEED later in the year and that's still the plan."

  40. Green groups fear coal mine plans 'environmentally unacceptable

    Conservation groups say the risk management plan for a proposed coal mine in the Kimberley's Fitzroy Valley is '"fatally flawed".

    As part of the Duchess Paradise Project, Rey Resources wants to build an underground mine near Derby, use the Derby Port and transport coal along the Great Northern Highway.

    The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is accepting public comment on Rey's draft management plans until next Tuesday.

    The Conservation Council of WA, Wilderness Society and Environs Kimberley say the document contains unreliable data and downplays potential risks of the project.

    Environs Kimberley director Martin Pritchard has urged the EPA to reject the proposal.

    "If the EPA takes a good close look at this, there's only one thing they can do and that is reject the proposal," he said.

    "It is environmentally unacceptable and would pose a serious threat to tourism in Derby."

    The Derby Chamber of Commerce secretary Stewart Milne says the project could be another seven years off being developed but the chamber will support it.

    "The chamber of commerce in line with the Derby Shire would like to put the proposal together but even though it's a business decision, the other areas do need to be taken into consideration, including the environment and how they're going to manage that process," he said.

    The ABC has contacted Rey Resources for a response.

  41. The dirty lowdown on shale oil


    Canada becoming launch-pad of a global tar sands and oil shale frenzy

    A worldwide extreme energy boom, modelled after Canada's, is unleashing weapons of mass ecological destruction

    .................... as conventional oil reserves have dwindled, oil companies have done the opposite of embracing this shift: they’ve doubled-down on their business model by seeking out remote, more polluting fossil fuels, in harder-to-extract places.

    Places like Alberta’s tar sands, a source of oil so dirty that renown ex-NASA climatologist James Hansen has described it as a “carbon bomb” whose full exploitation would spell “game over” for the climate. But if that worries scientists, it hasn’t made oil companies flinch. With little fanfare, Alberta’s extraction zone has become an inspiration and launch-pad for these companies’ ambitions – a world-wide expansion not only of the tar sands but also of oil shale, an even dirtier form of crude oil.

    Can you imagine squeezing oil from rock? Oil shale is different from the shale gas that is extracted through fracking. It is geologically un-evolved oil: the remnants of organic matter buried underground for millions of years but never sunk deep enough, nor long enough, to be transformed into petroleum. Lying only dozens or hundreds of metre beneath the surface, fused into shale rock, it can be extracted: but only with the most carbon and water-intensive methods ever conceived.

    Mined or heated underground, shale rock is cooked at extremely high temperatures, usually with natural gas, to separate out the solid organic matter that contains the hydrocarbons. The process releases five times more emissions than conventional oil extraction, more even than the tar sands – making oil shale the world’s dirtiest energy source. The process also wastes an enormous amount of water. In Estonia, which has been extracting oil shale longer than anyone, the industry consumes a staggering 90 percent of all the water used in the country.

    Oil shale exploitation, it turns out, is hugely indebted to Alberta. It’s where one of its most common extraction methods was invented and first used for tar sands. And as prices for oil have remained high, making oil shale as well as tar sands profitable to extract, companies from around the world have flocked to Alberta to learn and hone their techniques.

    Middle eastern companies want to be “close to a champion." Estonians have tested new extraction technology. Chinese investors, who have bought huge ownership stakes in Alberta tar sands projects, don’t only want to take crude home – they want to take know-how to apply to their own oil shale.

    And then there’s Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, which contain most of the world’s oil shale and huge deposits of tar sands – more than a trillion recoverable barrels, according to some estimates. To put that in perspective, Canada’s oil deposits hold about 200 billion recoverable barrels, Saudi Arabia’s 260. US government officials overseeing plans for this deposit, which has no comparison in the world, describe Alberta as their “template.”

    What exactly is that template? It’s not simply about dumping enough carbon into the atmosphere to fry the planet, though that is one of its least pleasant features. It’s also about hollowing out your country’s manufacturing industry, hitching your public finances to a disastrous boom-and-bust resource cycle, poisoning downstream indigenous communities, and fostering an increasingly authoritarian government that is willing to dismantle any regulation in the way of the oil barons while treating dissent like criminal behaviour.........................

  42. 4 years on and that blowout preventer still hasn't been fixed !

    Deep water drilling in the Gt. Aus. Bight is due to start and it's deeper than GOM Macondo out there.

    Where's the closest cleanup crew and backup rig from there ?


    The Deepwater Horizon Threat


    FOUR years ago this Sunday, BP’s Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico blew out, destroying the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, killing 11 workers and setting off an uncontrolled oil gusher lasting 87 days. By the time the flow was stopped, an estimated 200 million gallons of oil had entered the ocean.

    The harm to gulf wildlife has been long-lasting if not fully understood. One recent study found that dolphins in the gulf region were suffering from problems consistent with exposure to oil: lung damage and low levels of adrenal hormones, which are important for responding to stress. Another study found that bluefin and yellowfin tuna sustained heart damage, which suggests likely harm to other fish as well. Another legacy has been the oiling of marshes along the coast, which has exacerbated coastline erosion by killing grasses that help keep the shoreline intact.

    One of us, Liz Birnbaum, had for nine months been head of the government agency that regulated the offshore drilling industry when the spill began. We were both horrified to discover that the best efforts of industry and government engineers could not stop the spill for months.

    We would never have imagined so little action would be taken to prevent something like this from happening again. But, four years later, the Obama administration still has not taken key steps recommended by its experts and experts it commissioned to increase drilling safety. As a result, we are on a course to repeat our mistakes. Making matters worse, the administration proposes to expand offshore drilling in the Atlantic and allow seismic activities harmful to ocean life in the search for new oil reserves.

    Following the spill, the administration promised that it would do what was necessary to make drilling as safe as possible. A presidential commission recommended numerous measures to increase drilling safety. The Coast Guard, the Department of the Interior and the National Academy of Engineering subsequently identified more problems that contributed to the spill. Though some recommendations have been acted upon, including restructuring the regulatory agency that oversees drilling and increasing training and certification for government drilling rig inspectors, threats remain.

    One huge concern centers on the blowout preventers, which seal wells in blowouts and are the last line of defense for events like the one at Deepwater Horizon. It’s unfathomable that the administration has failed to act on the findings of the December 2011 report of the National Academy of Engineering, which gave us some very bad news about Deepwater Horizon’s blowout preventer.

    Its massive cutting blades were supposed to slice through the drill pipe to stop the flow of gushing oil. But it turned out that these huge pieces of equipment were not adequately engineered to stop emergency blowouts in deep water.

    The academy’s report was detailed and damning. Deepwater Horizon’s blowout preventer “was neither designed nor tested for the dynamic conditions that most likely existed at the time that attempts were made to recapture well control,” the report said. More troubling, the shortcomings of Deepwater’s equipment “may be present” at other deepwater drilling operations, the report said.

  43. The Deepwater Horizon Threat

    Administration officials promised an immediate response to the N.A.E. report, including regulations to set new standards for blowout preventers by the end of 2012. Today, 16 months after that deadline and four years after the blowout, we still have not seen even proposed rules. Deepwater drilling continues in the gulf. New leases are being offered by the government and sold to energy companies each year. Yet the N.A.E. report warned that a blowout in deep water may not be controllable with current technology.

    The risk of another blowout is real. Offshore wells have lost control several times in the past year. In July the Timbalier 220 well spewed natural gas for two days in the gulf, setting a drilling rig on fire, before it could be stopped. Its operators were fortunate that the blowout took place in just 154 feet of water, where the pressure is lower and underwater access is easier, and that the spill was mostly natural gas. But the same lack of control could easily lead to another oil blowout in deep water.

    This continuing threat to the oceans is compounded by the administration’s recent proposal to allow the use of seismic air guns to search for oil along the Atlantic coast. Scientists use these blasts to map the subsurface of the seafloor. But they harm a wide range of species, and the Interior Department’s own analysis indicates that they may kill large numbers of dolphins and whales. Rather than waiting for pending scientific guidelines that would determine whether this acoustic testing could be done safely, the administration has rushed to allow the oil industry to move forward.

    We have seen this pattern before. The expansion of drilling into deeper water and farther from shore was not coupled with advances in spill prevention and response. The same is true as we push into new territory in the Atlantic. As we commemorate one of the worst environmental disasters in United States history, we hope our leaders can rethink the expansion of offshore drilling, put real safety measures in place in the gulf and chart a course for safer and cleaner solutions to end the need for this risky business in the first place.

    S. Elizabeth Birnbaum is a consultant at SEB Strategies, and was director of the Minerals Management Service at the time of the Deepwater Horizon blowout. Jacqueline Savitz is vice president for U.S. Oceans at Oceana, an international conservation group.

  44. Well it had to happen - did someone say "money to be made" ?


    Amid marijuana safety concerns, Colorado unveils pot vending machines

    As Colorado confronts growing worry about potential dangers of misguided recreational marijuana use, the Zazzz pot dispensing machine arrives.

    LITTLETON, Colo. — In the posh resorts of Vail Valley, where celebrities are as common as the paparazzi who stalk them, a machine has suddenly stolen the limelight.

    Meet Zazzz, thought to be the nation's first identity-verifying marijuana vending machine. Unveiled at an invitation-only party in Avon, Colo., last weekend, it has become another first in a state that has seen its share since recreational marijuana was legalized.

    At first glance the lime green contraption looks like any that might spit out soft drinks or Cheetos, only this one comes equipped with state-of-the-art technology to check a user's identity and can dispense a full array of marijuana products, including edibles and pre-rolled joints.

    But even as this quirky sensation was making its debut, in other parts of the state Colorado continued to grapple with growing concern over the danger associated with misguided marijuana use and the ease with which products were falling into underage or unsuspecting hands.


    I guess we could say at least it's better than meth.?

  45. Can't believe it took me less than 10 minutes to submit my response to the EPA on the Rey Duchess coal mine proposal !

    The Environs Kimberley "Coal Submission Guide" made it so easy.

  46. George Brandis vs. The Pope ?


    George Brandis: sidelining climate change deniers is ‘deplorable’

    Attorney general accuses ‘true believers in climate change’ of being ‘ignorant’, ‘medieval’ and trying to shut down debate

    ..................The attorney general called the leader of the opposition in the Senate, Penny Wong, the “high priestess of political correctness” and said he did not regret his comment that everyone has the right to be a bigot in an interview with the online magazine Spiked.

    He said one of the main motivators for his passionate defence of free speech has been the “deplorable” way climate change has been debated and he was “really shocked by the sheer authoritarianism of those who would have excluded from the debate the point of view of people who were climate-change deniers”.

    “One side [has] the orthodoxy on its side and delegitimises the views of those who disagree, rather than engaging with them intellectually and showing them why they are wrong,” he said.

    He referred to Wong as standing up in the Senate and saying the science is settled as an example of climate change believers trying to shut down the debate.

    “In other words, ‘I am not even going to engage in a debate with you.’ It was ignorant, it was medieval, the approach of these true believers in climate change,” he said.

    Brandis said he was not a climate change denier and was on the side that believed in anthropogenic global warming and believed something ought to be done about it.................


    Pope Francis urged to back fossil fuel divestment campaign

    Letter from religious groups in Australia and North America says it is 'immoral' to profit from fossil fuels

    • Read the full text of the letter to the Pope

    Religious groups have urged Pope Francis to back a campaign to encourage millions of people, organisations and investors to pull their money out of the fossil fuel industry.

    Multi-faith groups in Australia and North America have sent a letter to the pope saying it is "immoral" to profit from fossil fuels.

    The letter, shown exclusively to the Guardian, says 80% of global fossil fuel reserves must "stay in the ground" if dangerous climate change is to be avoided.

    "We urge you, as a person held in high esteem by many millions around the world, to speak clearly about the place of divestment from fossil fuels as one significant means to avert the worst of climate disruption," the letter says.

    "You could have a desperately needed influence on the direction humanity takes from here. We urge you to use this influence."

    The plea to the Vatican follows a call from archbishop Desmond Tutu for an anti-apartheid style boycott of the fossil fuel industry. Writing in the Guardian last week he said, "People of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change."

    The letter sent to the pope's offices in February is co-signed by the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change (ARRCC) and US-based GreenFaith.

    Thea Ormerod, chair of ARRCC and a practising Catholic, said: "If the extracting and burning continues, the world's children and grandchildren may have little or no chance of any kind of decent life on this planet, particularly those who live in the global south.

    "For corporate bodies to continue seeking to profit from extracting coal, oil and gas in spite of this fact, is institutionalised greed, selfishness and arrogance. I believe as a Catholic that it is sinful."

    Both ARRCC and GreenFaith are umbrella organisations working mainly with Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist and Jewish groups.

    The letter was also signed by a New Zealand campaign that has seen five Anglican dioceses pledging to divest from fossil fuels.

  47. Mining lobby may join industry push to ban environmental boycotts

    Opposition to escalating grassroots movement calling for banks and super funds to divest from fossil fuel companies

    The powerful mining lobby is considering whether to join the push by resource industries to ban environmental boycott campaigns as it battles an escalating grassroots movement calling for banks, superannuation funds and institutions to ditch fossil fuel investments.

    The Minerals Council of Australia, which this week began its own “Australians for Coal” social media and lobbying campaign to argue the benefits of continued coalmining, has previously attacked “green extremists” who “have moved … from genuine protest to dangerous and unlawful civil disobedience”, saying the "extremists" would be facing the full force of the law if they were not exempted from the ban on so-called secondary boycotts under competition laws.

    The mining industry has also begun lobbying investor and superannuation funds to provide information to counter the push by organisations including for them to divest from fossil fuel companies. The higher education superfund Unisuper – which has $40bn in funds under management – has announced it will exclude fossil fuel from its “socially responsible” investment options.

    A spokesman for the Minerals Council said the organisation was examining an issues paper from the government’s review of competition law to decide whether it would make a submission, and whether it would argue the divestment campaign could also be considered a secondary boycott.

    Other resource industries, including the forestry and resource groups, are arguing that environmental groups should no longer be exempt from Australia’s competition law ban on so-called “secondary boycotts” – actions that try to stop a third person buying goods from another. And it also supports the argument that more safeguards are needed to ensure the “truthfulness” of information supplied during activist campaigns.

    In an article for the Guardian, the nobel laureate Desmond Tutu called for an apartheid-style boycott of fossil fuel investments. The group is leading a worldwide grassroots campaign to push public institutions, super funds, inidivudals and banks to move money away from fossil fuels.

    It lists nine US colleges and universities, more than 20 US cities, 26 churches including the Uniting Church of New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory and many foundations that have pledged to divest.

    The issues paper released by the panel appointed by the Australian government to review competition law specifically includes the possibility of changes to the secondary boycott provisions.

    The minister for small business, Bruce Billson, told Guardian Australia the government had “expressly mentioned” secondary boycotts in an issues paper for its review of competition laws because “we want respondents to discuss both the exemptions from secondary boycotts and the broader concept of false and misleading representations”.

    But Billson said the issue raised complex legal questions, including “jurisdictional reach” and exactly what conduct constituted a secondary boycott “because you can of course run a direct information scheme, but not a campaign that threatens a business with loss or harm, so it depends on the conduct itself”.

    Guardian Australia has reported a push by the forestry industry and some Tasmanian MPs to remove the secondary boycott exemption for environment groups because of the impact of boycott campaigns demanding furniture retailers and overseas customers cease buying timber from unsustainably logged forests.

  48. It is 4 years since the Macondo well exploded in the G.O.Mexico.

    The author of "100 years of solitude" passed away today.

    From the archive, 28 June 1970: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

    Observer review (of translation by Gregory Rabassa) by David Gallagher

    .....................For One Hundred Years of Solitude demonstrates the extent to which the fragile distinction between reality and fantasy depends on the context and assumptions of time and place.

    Thus in so remote and improbable a backwater as the swampy village of Macondo which the novel describes, the lunatic ravings of the mad priest who announces the arrival of the Wandering Jew, and the sombre visitations of the ghosts of departed friends, are far more real than such magical novelties as ice, magnets, trains, films and telephones.

    And after trains and film shows are introduced to Macondo who can be surprised when the village is subjected to a rain of yellow flowers that covers the streets like a vast carpet, or when a girl is conferred the privilege of assumption, like the Blessed Virgin Mary?

    The villagers are far more astonished to find in the cinema that 'a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears of affliction had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one.'

    There is no agreement among the inhabitants of Macondo on the exact location of the borderline between fantasy and reality. Yet not even Macondo's most obsessed lunatics are so arbitrary in their deployment of fantasy as the Colombian Government and its ally, American capital.

    Thus a strike in a banana plantation that an American company establishes in Macondo is discouraged by the company lawyers' assertion that its workers simply do not exist: 'The banana company did not have, never had had, and never would have any workers in its service because they were all hired on a temporary and occasional basis.'

    When the workers finally do strike they are all shot and their bodies are secretly whisked away from Macondo by train at night. Yet a solitary surviving witness of the incident is not able to convince anyone that the slaughter ever occurred, and future generations of Colombian children are to read in their school textbooks not only that there was no slaughter, but indeed that there was never even a banana plantation in Macondo.


    Many of the ingredients of contemporary Latin American fiction are packed into this novel. As in other novels, particularly in Carpentier, a savage nature voraciously devours civilisation if it is riot hectically kept at bay; the cult of male virility is fervently, if periodically and humorously, sustained; and as in many Latin American novels, human events are seen ultimately to unfold not progressively but cyclically.

    Thus we see Macondo go through laborious alternate cycles of prosperity and decay before finally being swept into the swamp by a cyclone.

    All human activity may indeed seem fleeting and cyclical in a continent ravaged by earthquakes, floods, droughts and cyclones. One would anyway not expect a linear view of history to emanate from the imagination of a continent notorious for its inability to achieve significant development.

    One Hundred Years of Solitude tells the story of six generations of the Buendia family, the leading family of Macondo, all of whose males are called Jose Arcadio or Aureliano. Their story is a story of endless repetition, of eternal return.

  49. World Latest vehicles, Super Cars, Super Latest Speed Cars, Expensive Cars, Latest Mazda Models, Racing Cars, International Sport Cars, Concept Cars, PS-Pod, Strange Vehicles, Nissan, Royce Corniche, Ford Concept Cars, Strange Vehicles, Mercedes and More Sport Cars and Vehicles with Pictures and Info

  50. I guess everyone was shocked to see the list of names for the new business lobby group in Broome - includes Peter Yu and Barnett's brother & of course al the usual suspects.

    If Perth was Washington then Woodside would be Goldman Sucks.

    As we found out here in Broome it doesn't matter - Labour or Liberal - the bastards are all the same.

    All the news from NSW proves this beyond doubt.
    As for all the "Honour" going around at ICAC - forget it.
    The people who are still saying how honest Barry and Arthur are and what good people etc. are in for a drenching.


    Job offer after wine gift

    Two weeks after receiving the bottle of Grange Hermitage that would lead to his resignation as premier, Barry O'Farrell was preparing to appoint the man who bought the extravagant gift, businessman Nick Di Girolamo, to a well-paid position on a government board.

    ..................When Mr Di Girolamo's name was raised for a board appointment in the May email, Mr O'Farrell had failed to declare that only two weeks earlier he had been the recipient of a $3000 gift from Mr Di Girolamo.

    The email raises further questions about the former Premier's claim that he cannot remember the lavish gift, which the Independent Commission Against Corruption this week revealed was delivered to Mr O'Farrell's then Roseville home on April 20.

    ................Briefing notes to treasurer Mike Baird - sworn in as Premier on Thursday - reveal a selection committee which included the former Greiner government minister Robert Webster, then a senior executive at recruitment firm Korn/Ferry, ranked Mr Di Girolamo last out of six candidates.

    ...................Three months later an opening arose when corruption allegations forced the resignation of the now jailed union boss Michael Williamson, who had been appointed to the State Water Corporation in the last days of the Labor government by treasurer Eric Roozendaal.

    Mr Baird and then finance minister Greg Pearce signed off on the appointment of Mr Di Girolamo to a three-year $100,000 directorship of State Water Corporation.

    ''[Mr Di Girolamo] has legal and water sector experience,'' the briefing note to Mr Baird states. ''He is currently a director of Australian Water Holdings and Chairman of the Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry''.

    Mr Di Girolamo began as a director of State Water Corporation in July 2012.

    Two years earlier, in October 2010, AWH donated $10,000 to the campaign of the then opposition water spokeswoman Katrina Hodgkinson, a Nationals MP who holds the rural seat of Burrinjuck - hundreds of kilometres from north-west Sydney.

    After the 2011 election Ms Hodgkinson was appointed water minister with responsibility for State Water Corporation.


    ICAC heard plenty of evidence about the way Di Girolamo used his Liberal connections to open doors, even before the change of state government in March 2011.

    He put John Howard's former chief aide, the now-senator Arthur Sinodinos, on his board in 2008 as a ''door-opener''.

    He hired lobbyists with impeccable Liberal credentials, such as former minister Michael Photios, and Paul Nicolaou, who headed the Millenium Forum, a key Liberal fund-raising committee. ICAC heard evidence that Di Girolamo poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into the pockets of these and other lobbyists - none of it from his own funds, as the bill was being passed on, in disguised form, to government agency Sydney Water.

  51. Job offer after wine gift

    ICAC heard there were a series of contacts between Sinodinos, Di Girolamo and O'Farrell's then chief of staff Peter McConnell, and a meeting at State Parliament in August 2010, resulting in a letter from O'Farrell on September 28, 2010, broadly supporting the kind of public-private partnership (PPP) arrangement that AWH was seeking.

    On Tuesday,Watson put to O'Farrell that there was '' lots of money going into Liberal Party coffers from Australian Water Holdings which coincides with this letter of support. Do you know anything about that?''


    The rise and rise of Nick Di Girolamo

    August 12, 2010: O'Farrell has an hour-long meeting with Nick Di Girolamo, Arthur Sinodinos, Brad Hazzard and Peter McConnell (chief of staff to O'Farrell) about Australian Water Holdings.

    September 28, 2010: O'Farrell writes a letter of support for Di Girolamo's business.

    December 3, 2010: Di Girolamo throws a fund-raiser dinner for Barry O'Farrell at Rockpool.

    February 16, 2011: O'Farrell photographed with Di Girolamo at the Italian Chamber of Commerce Queensland flood appeal dinner. Di Girolamo pays $2727 in a ''live auction'' for dinner with O'Farrell.

    March 26: O'Farrell wins the election and becomes NSW Premier.

    April 20: Di Girolamo sends a $3000 bottle of 1959 Penfolds Grange Hermitage to O'Farrell's Roseville home as a congratulatory gift. O'Farrell writes a note to Di Girolamo, thanking him for the gift.

    May 3: Peter McConnell forwards Di Girolamo's re´sumé´´ to the head of the Department of Premier and Cabinet, Chris Eccles. Eccles forwards the re´sumé´´ to senior staff, noting Di Girolamo is ''our replacement board member''.

    May 11: Di Girolamo, O'Farrell and others dine at Flying Fish for the dinner bought in February.

    May 27: Di Girolamo, O'Farrell, McConnell and Greg Pearce meet in Parliament House to discuss Australian Water Holdings.

    March 2012: Di Girolamo put forward for a directorship of Sydney Ports Corporation but ranked least-appropriate candidate.

    July 2012: Mike Baird and Pearce sign off on Di Girolamo's appointment to a $100,000 job on the State Water Corporation board.

  52. Barry O'Farrell's true fault was failing to root out corruption in the NSW Liberals

    Tasting Notes: The 1959 Chateau d'icac.

    Celebrated vigneron Nick Di Girolamo has excelled himself with this rare and striking Premier Grand Cru. Selected from old grapes of wrath vines at the Obeid family's Mt Corruption vineyard in NSW and cellared in Rum Corps oak casks, the wine reveals hidden gifts of subtle complexity.

    The brown nose offers a concentrated aroma of decaying cattle dung, complexed by persistent spice notes of rotten fish and more than a hint of unsavoury greased palm. An intense palate of bitter fruits displays weak backbone and piss-in-pocket acidity, with a lingering after-palate heightened by a signed "thank you" note of unmistakeable provenance.

    A wine not to be forgotten.


    O'Farrell's true fault was his failure to keep his promise to root out the endemic corruption of the NSW Liberals. He baulked at bold political reform. As we will see in the next ICAC trawl, the Liberal Party state machine is rotten with spivs and shonks, touts and urgers, spongers and leeches, bludgers and layabouts, shysters and shifters, corridor whisperers and sleeve-tuggers. It is infested by the buyers and sellers of power and influence. If it never plumbed the dark depths to which Edward Moses Obeid and his cronies dragged the ALP, it was still sloshing around in the same sewer.

    Barry O'Farrell was plainly aware of this but unwilling – or more likely unable – to expel the moneychangers from his temple. In the end, they got him.


    ONE THING is for sure: the coming budget will reveal the Prime Minister as a barefaced liar.

    "I trust everyone listened to what Joe Hockey said last week and again this week," he told an SBS interviewer on election eve last September. "No cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS."

    Of that lot, it's likely only the GST will be untouched. The ABC will be hit ruthlessly, with tens of millions of dollars slashed in what the government's weasel spinners will try to sell as an "efficiency dividend".

    When I wrote here last November that "the fight for the ABC is on", I knew the Tories would be vindictive. I had no idea they would get so viciously personal; led by Mr Murdoch's myrmidons, of course. Just recently, News Corpse writers have likened the ABC managing director, Mark Scott, to Joseph Goebbels and Vladimir Putin. Individual journalists are frequently targeted by name. The Australian spent an entire week monstering the Media Watch presenter, Paul Barry, for some perceived offence to its editor-in-chief's delicate sensibilities. The madder ideologues, like the mouths for hire at Melbourne's lunar Right Institute of Public Affairs, shrill that the place should be sold off altogether.

    Watch this space. The battle for the ABC is just warming up.


    What a rotten usual !

    Here in WA an ICAC style enquiry into Barnett would make Burke look like a rank amateur.

    And Broome ?
    How can the Shire (Campbell - Bloom/Proctor) waste $12 million with nothing to show for it AND not a whisper..........complete silence ?

    That's $8 million on a gas plant every analyst on the planet said would never be built - (except for the Proctor/Bloom "Oil and Gas Consultacy") .
    How much went in their pockets I wonder ?

    ......And the Proctor/Bloom "Chinatown Consultancy" - $4 million and they designed it in Japanese instead of Chinese !
    How much did they make on that ?

    Not a sound silence..........

    NOW what could have someone with an honest view of Broome done with that $12 million ?


    LIB/NATS - 40% DOWN 4%

    LABOUR - 34% DOWN 1%

    THE GREENS - 17% up 5%


    The April Fairfax Nielsen poll shows the government has paid for a month in which its central economic policies such as repealing the carbon and mining taxes and crafting a fiscally responsible budget were allowed to be swamped by self-inflicted political controversies.

    These were the surprise restoration of the royal titles of knight and dame; the furore surrounding the suspended Assistant Treasurer Arthur Sinodinos and his links with the disgraced Obeid family; and the government's divisive efforts to weaken racial anti-discrimination laws at the urging of a tiny but powerful group of shock-jocks and libertarian fundamentalists.


    In Western Australia, where the Greens succeeded less than a fortnight ago in having their sitting senator re-elected following a well-fought campaign, the party's vote has reached an unprecedented 27 per cent – more than double the 12 per cent recorded at last year's election.

    Labor's dominance on the two-party-preferred basis is being driven by the Greens' support and by a noticeable shift in voting intention between the cities and the non-capital city votes.

    "The fall in the Coalition vote occurred mainly in regional areas," Fairfax Nielsen pollster John Stirton said.

    He described the collapse in the Coalition vote outside capital cities of 8 percentage points as "statistically significant", dropping from 50 per cent to 42 per cent.

    "In capital cities it fell only slightly, from 40 per cent to 39 per cent."

    The nation-wide telephone poll of 1400 voters was taken between last Thursday and Saturday, which coincided with what many political observers believe was one of the government's best weeks with the Prime Minister achieving several foreign policy wins in north Asia.


    For both sides the budget looms as a crucial test. In the meantime, the emphatic winners are the GREENS, basking in the afterglow of the WA vote, and being rewarded for not wavering in their policies and priorities.


    TRUE - the only person who ever made any sense was Scott Ludlam.

  54. Why the Chinese need our farmland...............


    One fifth of China's farmland polluted

    New report confirms scale of China's soil pollution problem with 20% of farmland contaminated

    .......................China's air pollution problems have made headlines worldwide, however soil pollution is less visible has received a lot less attention. But it has previously been estimated that it could be a bigger problem than either air or water pollution, with impacts on public health and food production.

    In January, an agriculture official admitted that millions of hectares of farmland could be withdrawn from production because of severe pollution by heavy metals. And last December the vice minister of land and resources estimated that 3.3 million hectares of land is polluted, mostly in gain producing regions.

    Last year the government admitted to the existence of cancer villages, areas where cancer rates have risen dramatically due to high pollution levels, usually from nearby heavy industrial plants.

    There has been increasing pressure on the government to release accurate and up-to-date data on pollution. Public pressure has led to the government to publish air pollution data online so residents in affected cities can take precautionary measures such as wearing face masks.


    Arctic oil: it is madness to celebrate a new source of fossil fuels

    As the first barrels head for Europe, we cannot afford – and do not need – new sources of harder to reach fossil fuels

    ...................Yet it's not only Russian oil, coal and gas companies that play politics; it's the fossil fuel industry itself. Even as western leaders denounce Gazprom's actions in threatening to cut off gas supplies to Ukraine, Shell is still committed to supporting Gazprom drill for more Arctic oil. Similarly, BP has a 20% stake in the largest Kremlin-controlled oil company Rosneft. As the Financial Times reported this week, BP is at the forefront of companies lobbying ministers not to penalise Russia over the crisis in Ukraine. As Putin tightens his grip in Russia he inevitably tightens the links with BP as well. Rosneft, along with Gazprom, are the chief sources of finance for his government.

    And there is another obvious reason we shouldn't be celebrating new Arctic fossil fuels. This week's IPCC report, produced by 1,250 international experts and approved by 194 governments, definitively says we must get off fossil fuels fast. That means only about one-fifth of all fossil fuel reserves can be burned. So we don't need, and cannot afford, new sources of harder to reach fossil fuels, such as Arctic oil.

    The first oil to come from the Arctic is symbolic for Putin, but it's also symbolic for the fight against climate change. In the last 30 years we've lost three-quarters of Arctic sea ice volume in summer months. And as oil companies rush in to exploit the shrinking ice, they are also risking environmental disasters in the fragile Arctic environment.

  55. Russia Ships First Oil From Disputed Offshore Arctic Platform

    by Reuters

    Alexei Anishchuk
    Friday, April 18, 2014- See more at:

    ......................"The whole project will positively influence Russia's future presence on the global energy markets and will strengthen both the whole economy and the energy sector," said Putin, who personally oversees all the major energy projects in country.

    Russia's oil output stands at over 10 million barrels per day, the world's largest, but it needs new sources of crude oil, including hard-to-recover deposits and the Arctic, to sustain this level.

    Arctic Resources The start of Arctic oil shipments drew strong criticism from the environmental group Greenpeace, whose protests against Prirazlomnoye last year led to the arrest of 30 activists who were held for two months before a Kremlin amnesty released them.

    "If we do not stop this Arctic oil rush, we risk not only the environment but our ability to shake off the power structures of the last century," Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo said in a statement.

    "Greenpeace, alongside millions of our supporters, will continue to stand against any oil company that tries to drill in the melting Arctic ocean.


    Rosneft, Russia's top oil producer, has agreed to develop Russian Arctic hydrocarbon resources with ExxonMobil , Eni and Statoil.

    It puts total offshore hydrocarbon resources at 43 billion tonnes of oil equivalent. The Arctic is estimated to contain 20 percent of the world's undiscovered hydrocarbon resources.

    Rosneft's projects are not expected to produce their first oil from Arctic waters before the middle of the next decade.

    (Reporting by Alexei Anishchuk; Writing by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Tom Heneghan)

  56. Sources: PetroChina Hikes Shale Gas Spending To More Than $1.6B

    by Reuters

    Chen Aizhu
    Friday, April 18, 2014- See more at:

    BEIJING, April 18 (Reuters) - Chinese state energy giant PetroChina plans to spend more than 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) on shale gas this year, sources with knowledge of the matter said, as domestic competition heats up after rival Sinopec announced a commercial find.

    Faced with high drilling costs and the complexity of tapping shale gas, China has struggled to revolutionise its energy supplies. The top energy consumer wants to unlock what could be the world's largest shale gas reserves by emulating the hectic success of the U.S. shale boom.

    PetroChina's decision to triple its shale gas spending from expenditures on the unconventional fuel over the past few years comes just months after Sinopec Corp lifted hopes that China is near a breakthrough by announcing a commercial find.

    PetroChina, Asia's largest oil and gas producer, has also lifted its 2015 shale gas output target to 2.6 billion cubic metres (bcm), up from the previous 1.5 bcm, according to a company official and a government source. That would represent only about 2.3 percent of China's total natural gas output of around 113 bcm last year. "PetroChina wants to play catch up after Sinopec's success," said a government source who has been briefed on PetroChina's plans.


    High Drilling Cost The main challenge for both Sinopec and PetroChina is to cut the drilling cost per well to under 50 million yuan ($8 million), half the current hefty rates averaging around 80-100 million yuan, experts say.

    That requires a factory-style operation and technological improvements to shorten the drilling period for each well.

    At Fuling, Sinopec is now able to drill up to six wells simultaneously from one platform, cutting down the drilling time for a single well to 89 days from 100 days.

    Even so, Sinopec has only managed to reduce its per-well costs to about 80 million yuan, an amount that is economic only with a government subsidy of 0.40 yuan per cubic metres of production, industry officials said.

    China pumped about 113 bcm of natural gas last year, of which shale gas was a meagre 200 million cubic metres, according to official data.

    The government has set shale gas production targets at 6.5 bcm for 2015 and at 60-100 bcm for 2020.

    ($1 = 6.2190 Chinese Yuan)

    (Reporting by Chen Aizhu; Editing by Tom Hogue)


    Interesting cost per well there compared to the Canning Basin.

    Everyone sees "Factory style" drilling as the answer.

    1. A few things for Shale drillers to chew on..........

      ..................In the chart below, we can see that except for the Marcellus, the rest of the shale gas fields in the U.S. are in decline:

      As the Barnett, Fayetteville, Woodford and Haynesville shale fields peaked, gas production from the Marcellus (shown in brown) has increased substantially allowing overall production in the United States to continue to grow.

      While the Eagle Ford Field (dark brown and on the top) is showing an increase in gas production, it is more a liquid oil play and without the huge growth from the Marcellus, its contribution alone would have not offset the declines in the other shale gas fields.


      The path toward U.S. energy independence, made possible by a boom in shale oil, will be much harder than it seems.

      Just a few of the roadblocks: Independent producers will spend $1.50 drilling this year for every dollar they get back. Shale output drops faster than production from conventional methods. It will take 2,500 new wells a year just to sustain output of 1 million barrels a day in North Dakota’s Bakken shale, according to the Paris-based International Energy Agency. Iraq could do the same with 60.

      Consider Sanchez Energy Corp. The Houston-based company plans to spend as much as $600 million this year, almost double its estimated 2013 revenue, on the Eagle Ford shale formation in south Texas, which along with North Dakota is one of the hotbeds of a drilling frenzy that’s pushed U.S. crude output to the highest in almost 26 years. Its Sante North 1H oil well pumped five times more water than crude, Sanchez Energy said in a Feb. 17 regulatory filing. Shares sank 7 percent.


      Companies are showing the strain.

      Chesapeake Energy Corp., the Oklahoma City-based company founded by Aubrey McClendon, reported profit yesterday that missed analysts’ forecasts by the widest margin in almost two years. Shares declined 4.9 percent.
      Fort Worth, Texas-based Range Resources Corp. fell 2.3 percent after announcing Feb. 25 that fourth-quarter profit dropped 47 percent. QEP Resources Inc., a Denver-based driller, slid 10 percent after fourth-quarter earnings reported Feb. 25 fell short of analysts’ predictions.


      The U.S. oil industry must sprint simply to stay in place.
      U.S. drillers are expected to spend more than $2.8 trillion by 2035 even though production will peak a decade earlier, the IEA said.
      The Middle East will spend less than a third of that for three times more crude.


      Shale wells can vary in price. Chesapeake will spend an average of $6.4 million each this year, according an investor presentation last updated yesterday. Houston-based Goodrich Petroleum Corp. will spend up to $13 million on some of its wells, Robert Turnham, president and chief operating officer, said in a Feb. 20 earnings call.

      Bullish analysts and oil executives have reason to crow. While drilling in Iraq could break even at about $20 a barrel, output will be limited by political risks, Ed Morse, global head of commodities research at Citigroup Inc. in New York, said in a January report. By contrast, the break-even price in U.S. shale is estimated at $60 to $80 a barrel, according to the IEA.


    2. A few things for Shale drillers to chew on..........

      Yield Little - (Something BURU knows about)***

      The boom’s boosters have given rise to the misconception that wringing oil and gas from shale can be easily replicated throughout the country, Patzek said. That isn’t the case, he said. Every rock is different.

      The Bakken shale, along with the neighboring Three Forks formation, covers an area larger than France, according to the IEA.

      *** An oil-bearing formation that’s 400 feet (122 meters) thick in one spot may taper off to nothing just a mile away, Patzek said. What works for one well may yield little in a neighboring county. ***

      The output of shale wells drops faster, too, falling by 60 to 70 percent in the first year alone, according to Austin, Texas-based Drillinginfo Inc.

      Traditional wells take two years to fall by about 55 percent before flattening out. That forces companies to keep drilling new wells to make up for lost productivity.

      “You keep having to drill more and you keep having to spend more,” said Mark Young, an analyst with London-based Evaluate Energy, which tracks production and its costs.

      Sweet Spots

      A prolonged slide in prices below $85 a barrel may put pressure on operators that have struggled to contain costs or that don’t own acreage in the prolific “sweet spots” of the oil fields, said Leonardo Maugeri, a former manager at Rome-based energy company Eni SpA who’s researching the geopolitics of energy at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

      Companies have boosted well productivity and will continue to whittle down the break-even price, he said. While the boom could survive a brief dip in oil prices, a long slump could slow drilling and cause production to fall swiftly, Maugeri said.

      “To sustain in the short term, the U.S. needs prices at $65 a barrel,” Maugeri said. “That’s a critical level. Below that level, many opportunities will vanish.”

      The U.S. benchmark oil contract for West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in April 2016 is trading at about $85 a barrel, almost $18 a barrel less than today and still $20 above Maugeri’s threshold.

      Net Debt

      Even with crude prices above $100 a barrel, U.S. independent producers will spend $1.50 drilling this year for every dollar they get back from selling oil and gas and will carry debt that is twice as much as annual earnings, said Ryan Oatman, an energy analyst with SunTrust Robinson Humphrey Inc., an investment bank in Houston.

      By contrast, the net debt of Exxon Mobil Corp., the world’s largest energy explorer by market value, is less than half of the cash earned from operations last year. The company will spend 68 cents for every dollar it gets back this year, according to company records and analyst forecasts compiled by Bloomberg.

      So far, oil prices have been high enough to keep investors interested in the potential profits to be made in shale, Oatman said.

      “There is a point at which investors become worried about debt levels and how that spending is going to be financed,” Oatman said. “How do you accelerate and drill without making investors worried about the balance sheet? That’s the key tension in this industry.”

  57. There has been absolutely NOTHING anywhere to suggest anyone is remotely interested in spending $2 billion + on a supply base in the worst possible place - JPP.

    A world class supply base in the centre of north Oz action - Darwin - costs somewhere between $25 & $75 MILLION !


    Growth query for Woodside

    ..................While Woodside and Israel’s Government slug it out over the tax treatment of the Perth company’s proposed $US2.6 billion farm-in, Leviathan’s partners are getting ever closer to a final investment decision on a staged development of the 19 trillion cubic feet gas resource.

    This week, the Leviathan partners submitted a plan to Cyprus’ Government to send pipeline gas to the island nation, starting as early as 2016. The timetable is not dissimilar to the proposed start-up of Israeli domestic gas deliveries that will underpin Leviathan’s development.

    Big gas projects such as Leviathan or the Woodside-led Browse floating LNG development, which is the basis of design stage ahead of a move into front-end engineering and design work in the second half of this year, are risky, capital intensive and long-term propositions.

    Woodside chief executive Peter Coleman has made clear in his near-three years in the job the company will not rush into new mega-projects, and that it has heeded institutional investors’ appetite for cash returns rather than a relentless focus on growth.

    Last year, Woodside announced a dividend payout policy of 80 per cent of underlying net profit “for the next several years”.



    ".............the Perth company’s proposed $US2.6 billion farm-in, Leviathan’s ..............."

    A MAJOR project like Leviathan for the cost of a mad supply base idea from Barnett - nuff said.


    ALSO it's amazing after the dust settles (and many of the managers have left) just how they are willing to take a clear look at "what went wrong".

    ...................Woodside chairman Michael Chaney, who is up for re-election for a final three-year term at Woodside’s AGM on April 30, told the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association conference in Perth this month that Pluto had changed the company’s mind set.

    “With hindsight, our initial project planning had some short-comings, including that we were far too optimistic in our scheduling and productivity assumptions,” he said. “This increased the complexity of execution and resulted in quite significant cost overruns and schedule extensions. Late in the project, having taken stock of the situation, we concentrated on one single objective: achieving a flawless start-up even if that entailed more cost and further delays.”

    Pluto’s development cost 25 per cent more than budgeted and was a year late.


    Can't wait for the Gorgon one from Chevron.

    1. Or the JPP one.
      Same thing again - Voelte's mad rush rush rush.
      With a dunce like Barnett backing him "I flew over it once"

      Rushing into things ignoring local knowledge - a "we know best" totally deaf approach.

      Broome is still like that and will continue to be so as long as we have dunces like Proctor,Bloom and Campbell calling the shots with little or no local knowledge.

      It's more important to them to have all the money going into their pockets and their mates pockets and cut out everyone else.

      So the dumb decisions go on and on and the money gets wasted and the town and bay and country gets trashed.

  58. One year after Woodside scrapped it's doomed gas plant project at Walmadan and both the original claimants have passed away.

    Many others caught up in this KLC debacle are also suffering ill health.

    This exercise in community destruction was always going to be a disaster and the effects will reverberate on for a very long time.

    The lesson then is - this is what happens when money is put before people - sickness is the result.

    Just as what is going on at the Broome Shire and the Broome Chamber of Commerce is making us sick.

    The majority are being sacrificed for the benefit of a few - again.

    RIP Mr Roe and Mr Shaw

    Of course the leading villains in this piece are nowhere to be seen.
    As was said when all the conflict was raging - as sure as night follows day when this is over the ones who caused all the trouble will be nowhere to be seen.
    Leaving all their mess to be cleaned up by others.

  59. Googled "anthony ingraffea well casing failure" and found some interesting stuff.

    Thursday, January 23, 2014 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm

    Anthony Ingraffea on Hydraulic Fracturing's Myths and Realities

    Renowned fracking expert Anthony Ingraffea discusses Unconventional Development of Oil/Gas from Shale Formations in this Global Energies Distinguished Lecture.

    Ida Noyes Hall
    Third Floor Theater
    1212 East 59th Street
    Chicago IL, 60637

    In this talk, Prof. Ingraffea (Engineering, Cornell) will explore some myths and realities concerning large-scale development of the unconventional natural gas/oil resource in shale deposits. On a local scale, these concern geological aspects of the plays, and the resulting development and use of directional drilling, high-volume, slickwater, hydraulic fracturing, multi-well patterned-cluster pad arrangements, and the impacts of these technologies on waste production and disposal, and possible contamination of water supplies. On a global scale, the talk will also address the cumulative impact of unconventional gas development on greenhouse gas loading of the atmosphere. Finally, Prof. Ingraffea will discuss green alternatives to shale gas.

    Albert S. Colman, assistant professor in the Department of Geophysical Sciences, will introduce Dr. Ingraffea.

    Dr. Ingraffea is the Dwight C. Baum Professor of Engineering and Weiss Presidential Teaching Fellow at Cornell University where he has been since 1977. He holds a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Notre Dame, an M.S. in Civil Engineering from Polytechnic Institute of New York, and a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from the University of Colorado. Dr. Ingraffea’s research concentrates on computer simulation and physical testing of complex fracturing processes. He has authored with his students and research associates over 250 papers in these areas, and is Director of the Cornell Fracture Group (

    His accolades are many: Since 1977, he has been a principal or co-principal investigator on over $35M in R&D projects from the NSF, EXXON, NASA Langley, Nichols Research, NASA Glenn, AFOSR, FAA, Kodak, U. S. Army Engineer Waterways Experiment Station, U.S. Dept. of Transportation, IBM, Schlumberger, Gas Technology Institute, Sandia National Laboratories, the Association of Iron and Steel Engineers, General Dynamics, Boeing, Caterpillar Tractor, DARPA, and Northrop Grumman. Professor Ingraffea was a member of the first group of Presidential Young Investigators named by the National Science Foundation in 1984. For his research achievements in hydraulic fracturing he has won the International Association for Computer Methods and Advances in Geomechanics "1994 Significant Paper Award", and he has twice won the National Research Council/U.S. National Committee for Rock Mechanics Award for Research in Rock Mechanics (1978, 1991). He became a Fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1991. In 2006, he won ASTM’s George Irwin Medal for outstanding research in fracture mechanics, and in 2009 was named a Fellow of the International Congress on Fracture. TIME Magazine named him one of its “People Who Mattered” in 2011, and he became the first president of Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers for Healthy Energy, Inc. ( in that same year.

    This event is presented by the Center for International Studies, the Program on the Global Environment and the Environment, Agriculture and Food Working Group as part of "Global Energies: A Public Inquiry into the Ecology, Science and Politics of Energy in the 21st Century."

    This event is free and open to the public. Those with a disability who feel they may need assistance should email:

  60. New South Wales Country Hour

    Professor Anthony Ingraffea on coal seam gas emiisions

    Posted Tue 25 Mar 2014, 3:51pm AEDT

    Professor Tony Ingraffea from Cornell University, USA, talks to David Claughton about methane emissions from coal seam and shale gas mining.

    David Claughton

    Source: ABC Rural | Duration: 5min 38sec


    Fracking & well casing failure

    June 27, 2013 by Hannah Wittmeyer

    Fracking research in Pennsylvania

    2 days ago, an already sensationalized study describing the causes of methane gas migration into drinking water wells was published by the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). What the scientists from Duke suggest has slightly shifted the pace of the fracking debate: that faulty well construction or well casing failure, and not necessarily the fracking treatment itself, may account for most water contamination risks associated with natural gas drilling. After analyzing over one hundred water wells in Pennsylvania, they confirmed that thermogenic methane (and not merely natural surface-level biogenic methane) were found in water samples of wells in close proximity to drill sites. While proper well casing design protects groundwater most of the time, the sheer number of new wells drilled far exceeds the capacity of the few inspectors around to ensure that they’re failproof. Or at least meet baseline regulations.

    Anthony Ingraffea has matched the Duke study with other data that show a 6-7% well casing failure rate – or “compromised structural integrity” – of wells drilled within the past three years. Over a 30 year period, even industry studies have reported anywhere between a 2-60% failure rate of oil and gas wells, depending on company, location, and age. Why the variance? And what factors lead to well casing failure?

    Well design

    A giddy operator with the rights to a gas-rich parcel of land can’t just drill willy-nilly. Well design considerations are very complex and attention to detail must span the construction, testing phase, and decommissioning of the well post-production. Moreover, drilling wells are often constructed uniquely with regard to the geology and geography of the specific location. For instance, because much of the shale formation in Pennsylvania lies beneath a shallower gas formation, it is easier for the shallower gas to escape

    during the initial drilling process. This in turn has made it difficult for drillers to design failproof wells that can be sealed off from the younger deposits completely.


    While 6-7% may not seem very high a failure rate, if over 100,000 wells have been drilled over the Marcellus reserves alone, the rate takes on new – and frightening – significance. Creating a buffer between the water table, the earth, and the wellbore using cement is tricky. If the cement doesn’t bond properly with the walls of the well, contaminants or methane can more easily leak into water supplies. For this reason, faulty well design has proven problematic for on-shore and off-shore drilling projects. And it’s not the only factor.

    Loss of well integrity is related to these factors:
    1.Pressure: high casing pressure from fracking operations & lack of a pressure relief system
    2.Age: as wells age, the steel casing is subject to corrosion; likewise, cement linings may shrink, debond, or crack.
    3.Construction or design flaws
    4.Damage during handling or fracking
    5.Rapid development of gas field
    6.Disturbance of young cement due to other drilling occurring on the same pad
    7.Deviated wells
    8.Drilling in shallower high-pressure gas horizons

    Etc - long article - good read

  61. (this article is old but has some great links)

    Shale Gas: How often do fracked wells leak?

    by Andrew Nikiforuk, originally published by The Tyee | Jan 10, 2013

    Tight as a drum? Shale gas well head in Pennsylvania. Photo by Jeremy Buckingham MLC via Creative Commons license.

    When industry says hardly ever, that's a myth. It's a documented, chronic problem.

    One of the boldest claims made by the shale gas industry goes like this: oil and gas companies have drilled and fractured a million oil and gas wells with nary a problem.

    In other words fracture fluid or methane leaks are "a rare phenomenon."

    But industry data disproves this dubious claim says Cornell University engineer Anthony Ingraffea, the main source for this series, who has studied the non-linear science of rock fractures for three decades.

    Moreover industry studies clearly show that five to seven per cent of all new oil and gas wells leak. As wells age, the percentage of leakers can increase to a startling 30 or 50 per cent. But the worst leakers remain "deviated" or horizontal wells commonly used for hydraulic fracturing.

    In fact leaking wellbores has been a persistent and chronic problem for decades. Even a 2003 article in Oil Field Review, a publication of Schlumberger, reported that, "Since the earliest gas wells, uncontrolled migration of hydrocarbons to the surface has challenged the oil and gas industry."

    Going up

    Methane, by its very lightness, wants to go up. Where ever drillers have not properly sealed and cemented wellbores in deep shale rock, the gas will escape and move through rock fractures (existing or industry-made ones) into groundwater, stream beds, water wells and even the basements of houses.

    Aging can affect leakage too. Old and decaying cement jobs largely explain why offshore oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico report leakage rates as high as 60 per cent after 16 years of service. Abandoned wells also can become major pollution portals.

    The Norwegian Petroleum Safety Authority reports that 18 per cent of its deep offshore oil and gas wells have integrity problems, while Australia struggles with chronic leaks from fractured coal bed methane wells.

    "Anything that ages starts to fail," explains Ingraffea. "I'm 65 and I've had a knee replaced."

    (continues on)


    Some of the links :

    Some stories below

  62. Shale Gas: Myth and Realities

    Nikiforuk tackles top claims fracking industry uses to reassure public. First in a series.

    By Andrew Nikiforuk, 7 Jan 2013,

    Industry and government repeatedly claim that hydraulic fracturing is safe because it is a well-regulated technique proven in the field over 60 years.

    It that myth or reality?

    A good person to ask is Anthony Ingraffea, a short and engaging scientist who knows how to separate fact from fiction in the shale gas industry.

    On Dec. 14 of last year the Cornell University engineer, one of the world's foremost authorities on the science of hydraulic fracturing, gave a stunning talk on the myths and realities of unconventional shale gas development to a room full of Calgary academics and oilmen.

    He did so with some trepidation in the oil and gas city, even though he has given some 120 public talks on the subject over the last four years to rural and urban audiences.

    "The playing field isn't level," he told the Tyee. "Oil and gas companies are tremendously wealthy and have very loud speakers. They can buy TV and full page ads and place them wherever they want."

    As a consequence, Ingraffea feels it is his duty as a scientist to provide missing information, challenge outright lies, and expose the uncomfortable science about mining methane from shattered rock.

    True to form, Ingraffea presented science, little known by the public, that was highly critical of the practice of hydraulic fracturing. He documented proven and repeated cases of groundwater contamination due to shale rock fracturing as well as chronic methane leaks (a climate change driver) at nearly seven per cent of all new well sites.

    "I don't imagine things. I don't blog things," he told an attentive audience of more than 100 petroleum types and academics. "I'm a licensed professional engineer in the state of New York. I'm trying to be as accurate as possible."

    Two decades of fracking investigations

    Ingraffea developed one of the first computer simulation models for hydraulic fracturing. For the last 20 years the scientist has studied the non-linear propagation of fractures in rock, concrete, dams and shale formations containing methane. During that time, Ingraffea, who lives overtop the Marcellus shale formation in upstate New York, has also consulted regularly with companies such as Schlumberger.

  63. Abandoned Oil and Gas Wells Become Pollution Portals

    Published: May 3, 1992

    From the Louisiana bayous to the arid plains of Texas and Oklahoma, thousands of oil and gas wells, abandoned at the end of their productive life, have become conduits for noxious liquids that bubble up from deep below the earth's surface to kill crops and taint drinking water.

    For state governments in America's oil patch, these abandoned wells have become an expensive legacy left by a fading industry.

    The Federal Environmental Protection Agency estimates that there are about 1.2 million abandoned oil and gas wells nationwide and that some 200,000 of them may not be properly plugged. In Texas alone, officials calculate there are 40,000 to 50,000 abandoned wells that could pose pollution problems.

    Often drilled to depths of a mile or more, oil wells typically tap into sandy formations permeated with a brine that is up to four times saltier than sea water and that is laced with radioactivity, heavy metals and other toxins. Without extensive and costly plugging, that brine can flow up the well shaft and seep into fresh water aquifers or sometimes reach the surface.

    Occasionally the brine from abandoned wells hits the surface with explosive force. In the last few years it has erupted through a parking lot in San Angelo, Tex. Mixed with natural gas, it spewed into the backyard of a home in Bartlesville, Okla., and oozed onto a freeway construction site in Tulsa. Slow, Insidious Process

    But the damage is usually slower and more insidious. A single unplugged exploration hole in West Texas leaked brine for 22 years before being discovered, polluting the ground water beneath 400 to 600 acres of land, a 1990 study by the Bureau of Economic Geology at University of Texas found.

    Many of the problem wells date to a freewheeling time before the oil business kept records or was regulated. In Texas, state records indicate that the sites of some 386,000 wells were never registered.

    And it was not until the mid-1960's that the oil-producing states enacted regulations to protect fresh water supplies by requiring that hundreds of feet of cement be poured into the wells at different levels in the process of closing them properly. A majority of the wells listed as plugged in Texas records were plugged before the rules were in place. Plugging Style of Past

    "We've found leaking wells from the old days that were rock-plugged, bucket-plugged, tree-stump-plugged and even one plugged with nothing more than a glass jug because back then they didn't give a darn and they just stuck whatever they had down the hole," said Wayne Farrell, director of the San Angelo-Tom Green County Health Department in West Texas.

    Oilfields are primarily the province of state, rather than Federal, regulators. They have usually been overseen by agencies like the Texas Railroad Commission or the Oklahoma Corporation Commission whose primary purpose is to promote the oil industry rather than protect the environment.

    The dangers posed by abandoned and improperly plugged wells began to attract attention from state officials only in the mid-1980's. The oil industry was a cherished source of revenue, and there was little research to distinguish contamination in oil fields from the naturally occurring salinity common in places like West Texas.

    Since 1990, both Texas and Oklahoma have created funds specifically dedicated to plugging abandoned wells by imposing new taxes or fees on companies drilling or operating oil wells. Louisiana, which has 1,493 abandoned, unplugged wells listed as awaiting action, eliminated money in its budget for plugging wells this year because of a state budget shortage.

    With exhausted fields and low prices driving down production, the number of wells abandoned by bankrupt operators has increased rapidly since the mid-1980's. Last year, Oklahoma began plugging 260 wells that were orphaned when a single company went bankrupt. The average cost is $4,000 a well.


    (long article - good read - very old)

    1. Published: May 3, 1992

      Makes a mockery of Buru's Bullshit.



    How Gas Wells Can Leak

    Studies showing leaking oil and gas wells

    Dr. Anthony Ingraffea quotes industry data of 1 in 20 wells that fail well casing integrity and says that the industry is unable to fix this systemic problem.

    Our government here in NB keeps telling us that with proper regulations it can be done safely. But a 5% failure rate is unacceptably high.

    Any information that you can share wish would be appreciated.


    (1) Dr. Anthony Ingraffea quotes the violations for methane migration handed out by Pennsylvannia DEP were 6.2% of wells drilled in 2011 and 2010. Dr. Ingraffea says that well casing integrity

    PA DEP Compliance Database:
    121 Violations for Methane Migration in 2011

    1,937 wells drilled in 2011
    121 well failures
    6.2% rate of failure

    1,454 wells drilled in 2010.
    90 well failures.
    6.2% of failure

    (2) This is consistent with previous industry data, and not improving. (Industry data compiled over 30 years is analyzed by US Mineral Management Service (MMS) = Brufatto et al., Oilfield Review, Schlumberger, Autumn, 2003)

    (3) Dr. Conrad Volz on leaky wells
    Dr. Conrad Volz
    University of Pittsburgh
    “I think we lose sight of the fact that there are 10s of thousands of leaking wells in North America. 10s of thousands! Not a few. It doesn’t matter whether they are hydraulically fractured or horizontal wells, they leak! In fact it is the way of all wells sooner or latter that they are going to leak. They are going to leak because the cement shrinks. And when the cement shrinks it pulls away from the geological layer that it’s sealed from. Then it serves a conduit straight up into groundwater aquifers.
    Q. Even if it’s a couple of miles?
    A. Of Course!”

    (4) Well Integrity Study
    Brufatto et al., Oilfield Review, Schlumberger, Autumn, 2003 –
    (NOTE: Statistics were collected over 30 years of industry data by the United States Mineral Management Service (MMS). Dr. Anthony Ingraffea referred to this study at him Moncton and Hampton presentations.)

    (5) Well Integrity Study (Canadian data of 352, 000 Canadian oil & gas wells) – the failure rate varies with the age of the well.
    Watson and Bachu, SPE 106817, 2009

    Gas patch scientists explain how hydraulic fracturing can permanently contaminate public water supplies
    May 6, 2011

  66. This knowledge has been around for years............

    BURU stay out of our kid's schools with your recycled big tobacco bullshit !


    New Study: Frack Fluids Can Migrate to Aquifers Within Years

    May 2, 2012

    by Iris Marie Bloom

    A new peer-reviewed scientific study has concluded that fracking chemicals injected into the ground could migrate toward drinking water supplies far more quickly than some experts had previously predicted. Abrahm Lustgarten of Propublica reports on the significance of the study’s findings here:

    More than 5,000 wells were drilled in the Marcellus between mid-2009 and mid-2010, according to the study, which was published in the journal Ground Water two weeks ago. Operators inject up to 4 million gallons of fluid, under more than 10,000 pounds of pressure, to drill and frack each well.

    Scientists have theorized that impermeable layers of rock would keep the fluid, which contains benzene and other dangerous chemicals, safely locked nearly a mile below water supplies. This view of the earth’s underground geology is a cornerstone of the industry’s argument that fracking poses minimal threats to the environment.

    But the study, using computer modeling, concluded that natural faults and fractures in the Marcellus, exacerbated by the effects of fracking itself, could allow chemicals to reach the surface in as little as “just a few years.”

    “Simply put, [the rock layers] are not impermeable,” said the study’s author, Tom Myers, an independent hydrogeologist whose clients include the federal government and environmental groups.

    “The Marcellus shale is being fracked into a very high permeability,” he said. “Fluids could move from most any injection process.”

    Dr. Michel Boufadel, a Temple University engineer, hydrogeologist and world-class expert on oil spills; Paul Rubin, a geologist who has provided expert testimony for legal actions calling for a moratorium on gas drilling in the Delaware River Basin; and other experts have, in fact, been explaining patiently for at least four years that the naturally fractured shale is not, as the industry claims, an “impermeable layer.” But as Lustgarten points out, this ground-breaking study is the first peer-reviewed study of its kind.

    Dr. Anthony Ingraffea has already established, based on PA DEP data, that Marcellus Shale well casings have failed at a rate of 6.2% in Pennsylvania in 2010 and 2011, causing immediate fluid migration (lecture by Ingraffea at “Marcellus Exposed” symposium, March 17th, 2012). But this new study shows that even without casing failures, fluid migration into aquifers will occur, and faster than almost anyone thought. Here are a few more of its findings:

    The models predict that fracking will dramatically speed up the movement of chemicals injected into the ground. Fluids traveled distances within 100 years that would take tens of thousands of years under natural conditions. And when the models factored in the Marcellus’ natural faults and fractures, fluids could move 10 times as fast as that.

    Where man-made fractures intersect with natural faults, or break out of the Marcellus layer into the stone layer above it, the study found, “contaminants could reach the surface areas in tens of years, or less.”

    The study also concluded that the force that fracking exerts does not immediately let up when the process ends. It can take nearly a year to ease.

    As a result, chemicals left underground are still being pushed away from the drill site long after drilling is finished. It can take five or six years before the natural balance of pressure in the underground system is fully restored, the study found.

    This new peer-reviewed study is a big deal, and the industry is sure to bring out the big guns at top speed to attack it.


    (another long good read)


    .......................A major study of Australian shale gas by the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA), a peak body representing the country's four Learned Academies made up of the nation's leading academics, found that at the current price, most dry shale projects in the US are not viable. This confirms what has been reported in US media since the initial excitement around their fracking industry has subsided. It means there's a lot of gas in the US looking for a better market which is why LNG exports from the US to Asia are on the cards.

    But the possibility of competing with US gas exports in Asia is not the only challenge facing Australian shale gas. The ACOLA study found that while you need a high market price to make the costs of shale gas viable in the US, it's even more expensive to extract unconventional gas in Australia.

    Rigs and skilled workers are more expensive and basic infrastructure like roads, water and power doesn't exist over much of our unconventional gas fields. The result is that Australian shale gas is three to four times more expensive to produce than US shale gas. The ACOLA study concludes that Australia's remote shale gas resources such as the Canning Basin probably aren't viable under short-term market prices unless they can also produce petroleum liquids such as condensate which attract higher prices.

    But petroleum liquids aren't likely to encourage investment in a gas pipeline and Buru Energy has to convince shareholders and its joint venture partners to do just that by Premier Barnett's 2016 deadline.

    The political risk is that the Canning Basin may be a longer term prospect for a future energy market prepared to pay higher prices. This could see it join the list of Kimberley gas projects that haven't made the grade under Premier Barnett's reign.

    Inpex took their Browse development to Darwin shortly after Mr Barnett became Premier in 2008. Woodside have taken their Kimberley project offshore this year. With the next WA state election in early 2017, the Canning Basin could become a ticking time bomb for the Barnett Government.

    Buru Energy and the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association were contacted for this article but had not responded at the time of publication.

  68. ....................Over the past four years, Alcoa has spent $100 million to $200 million partnering several energy companies to develop "unconventional" gas reserves in Western Australia and signing up as a long-term customer.

    Unconventional gas refers to shale and coal-seam gas.

    The companies include Empire Oil & Gas, which is expected to start delivering gas from the Gingin West and Red Gully gasfields near Perth early next year.

    It has made a $40 million pre-payment to Buru Energy for gas to be delivered from discoveries in the Canning Basin in the Kimberley.

    Alcoa has also provided funding to Transerv Energy, which is developing shale gas in the Perth Basin.

    Mr Cransberg said Alcoa would never be energy self-sufficient but it was aiming to cover its energy needs.

    "We will continue to invest based on the right business propositions to make sure that we are comfortable that, one, we are just not exposed to market prices and, two, that we have security of supply."


    Buru Energy announce extension of Alcoa gas supply agreement

    Filed under: Resources — Tags: alcoa gas, Buru Energy — tom @ 11:35 pm

    Buru Energy Limited announce that Buru and Alcoa of Australia Limited have agreed to a further two year extension of the Gas Supply Agreement between Buru and Alcoa.

    •Buru now has until 1 January 2015 to establish sufficient reserves to supply gas to Alcoa under the GSA.
    •This extension provides Buru with additional time to appraise and prove up gas reserves in the Canning Superbasin at the Yulleroo Field, the Valhalla accumulation and the wider Laurel Formation Basin Centred Gas Accumulation (‘BCGA’).
    •The recently announced State Agreement will allow Buru to optimise and expedite the work programs necessary to establish reserves and develop the infrastructure required to supply gas to Alcoa under the GSA.
    •In the event Buru does not prove up sufficient reserves to supply gas under the GSA, the repayment period under the GSA has also been extended by two years, with the first of the three equal annual repayment tranches (if required) not being due until 31 December 2015.


    The GSA provides for Buru to deliver up to 500 PJ of gas to Alcoa from discoveries made in the Canning Superbasin. Pursuant to the GSA, Alcoa made a $40 million prepayment for gas to be delivered under the GSA (‘Alcoa Prepayment’).

    As a result of the extension announced today, Buru now has until 1 January 2015 to identify sufficient gas to commence delivery under the GSA. If, prior to 1 January 2015, Buru has not made a final investment decision to proceed with a gas development that would supply sufficient gas to meet its initial delivery obligations under the GSA of 400 PJ, Buru will then be obliged to repay the Alcoa Prepayment in three equal annual instalments commencing on 31 December 2015. The third instalment may be satisfied with cash or Buru shares, at Buru’s election. Buru currently holds $24.8 million in escrow in partial satisfaction of Buru’s potential obligation to repay the Alcoa Prepayment.

    Importantly, this extension combined with the long term tenure and ability to optimise work programs provided by the State Agreement will ensure Buru is able to appraise both the Yulleroo Field and the Valhalla accumulation, and the wider Laurel Formation BCGA in the most timely and operationally efficient manner.


    Any bets Buru will have to cough it up ?


    12:28 pm

    Thu April 17, 2014

    The future of hydrofracking in New York State, which has been on hold under a de facto moratorium for almost seven years, may be on shakier ground than ever.

    Credit Tim Hurst / Flickr

    New York’s hydrofracking debate has been under national scrutiny for some time. Those who favor it say fracking will boost rural economies and help communities grow and prosper. Those against sound the alarm that the process will inflict ecological and environmental damage.

    The Multi-State Shale Research Collaborative brings together independent, nonpartisan research organizations in New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia to monitor economic trends and community impacts of energy extraction in the Marcellus and Utica Shale. The group has released case studies examining the impact of shale oil and gas drilling on four active drilling communities – Greene and Tioga counties in Pennsylvania, Carroll County in Ohio, and Wetzel County in West Virginia. Judging by the data, New York may need to re-assess fracking.

    Frank Mauro with the Fiscal Policy Institute of New York says much can be drawn from the studies. "The case studies are important because they begin the process of clearly identifying and lay the groundwork for quantifying the social and economic costs associated with shale drilling. In the report that the collaborative issued in November that focused on the employment aspects, we documented that the employment effect, both actual and potential, are much lower than had been prophecized by the industry, and we documented enough explanation of that to feel comfortable in saying that the purpose of that exaggeration is to preclude or minimize or actually avoid completely fair taxation, effective regulation and even careful examination. That's being used here in New York to say they shouldn't be going through a careful examination.

    Mauro points out that the case studies show that there are real and important costs and the costs have also been minimized and glossed over by the industry. "In terms of employment impact, one of the things that was very clear is that while the number of jobs created by the oil and gas industry itself is relatively small relative to the economy as a whole, 1 per cent 2 per cent whatever, even with that small number of jobs, that jobs have gone substantially to out-of-state workers."

    Add to the seemingly vanishing potential for new job creation a recent report that Ohio geologists found what they call "a probable connection" linking fracking to a sudden series of mild earthquakes this year in a region that had never experienced a temblor until recently. In March, Ohio indefinitely shut down Hilcorp Energy’s fracking operation near the Pennsylvania border after five earthquakes, including one magnitude-3 temblor that awoke many Ohioans from their sleep.

    John Armstrong is a spokesman for Frack Action and New Yorkers against fracking. "New Yorkers can add that the water contamination, poisoned air, ruined communities, and many many more reasons, why fracking must be banned. It's also important to know that New York City Department of Environmental Protection, the agency in charge of New York City's water, has issued warnings on three separate occasions, the seismic activity from fracking threatens the city's water supply. Their concerns have not been answered or addressed. And the latest earthquakes in Ohio just goes to show the only reason reasonable conclusion from the science and impact of fracking is to ban it outright."


    (continues on)

  70. "Nothing is certain in life 'cept death and taxes'

  71. "Hurricane"

    ....................Rubin Carter was falsely tried
    The crime was murder 'one' guess who testified
    Bello and Bradley and they both baldly lied
    And the newspapers they all went along for the ride
    How can the life of such a man
    Be in the palm of some fool's hand ?
    To see him obviously framed
    Couldn't help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land
    Where justice is a game.

    Now all the criminals in their coats and their ties
    Are free to drink martinis and watch the sun rise
    While Rubin sits like Buddha in a ten-foot cell
    An innocent man in a living hell
    That's the story of the Hurricane
    But it won't be over till they clear his name
    And give him back the time he's done
    Put him in a prison cell but one time he could-a been
    The champion of the world.

    The news that Rubin "Hurricane" Carter had died triggered swift reaction Sunday, largely from those recalling the boxer's wrongful murder conviction as immortalized in music by Bob Dylan in 1975 and on the screen in a 1999 movie starring Denzel Washington.

    Carter spent 19 years in prison for three murders in Paterson, N.J., following convictions in 1966 and 1976. Carter was freed in November 1985 when the convictions were set aside.

    Although never a world champion, Carter went 27-12-1 with 19 knockouts -- including stopping Emile Griffith in the first round in 1963. The murder convictions derailed his middleweight career and eventually triggered activism by numerous legal experts and celebrities on his behalf.

    Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter, wrongfully imprisoned US boxer whose story inspired Bob Dylan song, dead at 76

    ..................Carter, who died of prostate cancer in Toronto on Sunday, was convicted twice of the 1966 murder of three people who were shot dead at a tavern in Paterson, New Jersey.

    The conviction, which cut short his illustrious boxing career as a fearsome middleweight contender, made him a pop culture cause célèbre.

    His story caught the attention of boxing great Muhammad Ali, and inspired Bob Dylan's 1975 song Hurricane.

    Decades later the 1999 film The Hurricane earned Denzel Washington an Oscar nomination and a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Carter.

    ...............From 1993 to 2005, he served as the executive director of the Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted in Canada.

    The organisation said it was "deeply saddened" by the death of Carter, "a truly courageous man who fought tirelessly to free others who had suffered the same fate".

    Carter spent the latter part of his life advocating for the wrongly imprisoned.

    In February, he penned an article in the New York Daily News on that very topic...............

  72. Hurricane Carter’s dying wish

    He asks Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson to free another man who was wrongly convicted

    BY Rubin Carter /


    Friday, February 21, 2014, 4:00 AM

    You may remember me from my other life as a middleweight boxer. But fate had other plans for me; I was wrongly convicted of a triple murder in Paterson, New Jersey, and spent 19 years in prison trying, along with generous friends and good people from every walk of life, to right this wrong and gain my freedom.

    I am now quite literally on my deathbed and am making my final wish to those with the legal authority to act.

    My single regret in life is that David McCallum of Brooklyn — a man incarcerated in 1985, the same year I was released, and represented by Innocence International since 2004 — is still in prison. I request only that McCallum be granted a full hearing by the Brooklyn conviction integrity unit, now under the auspices of the new district attorney, Ken Thompson.

    Knowing what I do, I am certain that when the facts are brought to light, Thompson will recommend his immediate release.

    A man like McCallum, who has been wrongly convicted and has so far spent 28 years (beginning when he was just 16) behind bars, needs an unprejudiced higher authority, a person with nothing to lose or gain by righting an injustice, to examine the evidence that people have refused to act on all these years. Is it willful blindness or self-interest that was to blame?

    Willie Stuckey, who was wrongly convicted along with McCallum, has already died in prison. Do we need David to die as well to avoid an inconvenient truth?

    The details of this case would be the subject of the hearing, but I can say unequivocally that McCallum (who is being represented pro bono by attorneys Oscar Michelen and John O’Hara) and Stuckey are as innocent of the kidnapping and murder of 20-year-old Nathan Blenner in October of 1985 as anyone now reading this plea.

    Not a single piece of evidence ever implicated them in this crime nor placed them anywhere near the scene. Their two confessions, gained by force and trickery, are not corroborated even by each other; they read as if two different crimes were committed.

    The police, prosecutor, and judge jumped on those confessions like dogs on a bone, and the office of the previous Brooklyn DA, Charlie “Joe” Hynes, had been chewing on it ever since. New affidavits strongly indicate that potentially exculpatory police reports were lost, discarded or suppressed. DNA testing and fingerprint evidence all point in other directions.

    The Brooklyn DA’s office has, as I said, a Conviction Integrity Unit and this conviction has no integrity.

    I was freed from a living hell by the brave Judge H. Lee Sarokin, after I was given help from dedicated people who did so for no payment beyond the thanks I was able to give.

    McCallum was incarcerated two weeks after I was released, reborn into the miracle of this world. Now I’m looking death straight in the eye; he’s got me on the ropes, but I won’t back down.

    I ask Thompson to look straight in the eye of truth, a tougher customer than death, and not back down either.

    Just as my own verdict “was predicated on racism rather than reason and on concealment rather than disclosure,” as Sarokin wrote, so too was McCallum’s. My aim in helping this fine man is to pay it forward, to give the help that I received as a wrongly convicted man to another who needs such help now.

    If I find a heaven after this life, I’ll be quite surprised. In my own years on this planet, though, I lived in hell for the first 49 years, and have been in heaven for the past 28 years.

    To live in a world where truth matters and justice, however late, really happens, that world would be heaven enough for us all.

    Carter is an advocate for wrongly convicted prisoners

    1. He soon started his own small organization, Innocence International, to fight for prisoners he felt were wrongly convicted. And he wrote a 2011 memoir entitled Eye of the Hurricane: My Path from Darkness to Freedom, that featured a foreword by Nelson Mandela.

      Mr. Carter was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer in 2011. Mr. Artis, who had remained his friend ever since that night in 1966, dropped his life in Virginia to come to Toronto and care for Mr. Carter, after learning that his old friend was dying with no family at his side. He said Mr. Washington, whose portrayal of Mr. Carter was nominated for an Oscar, kept in touch, phoning Mr. Carter at Christmas time, for example.

  73. Makes me wonder - where will sea levels be in a 100,000 years ?

    Cumbrian nuclear dump 'virtually certain' to be eroded by rising sea levels

    One million cubic metres of waste near Sellafield are housed at a site that was a mistake, admits Environment Agency

    Britain's nuclear dump is virtually certain to be eroded by rising sea levels and to contaminate the Cumbrian coast with large amounts of radioactive waste, according to an internal document released by the Environment Agency (EA).

    The document suggests that in retrospect it was a mistake to site the Drigg Low-Level Waste Repository (LLWR) on the Cumbrian coast because of its vulnerability to flooding. "It is doubtful whether the location of the LLWR site would be chosen for a new facility for near-surface radioactive waste disposal if the choice were being made now," it says.

    The EA document estimates that the one million cubic metres of radioactive waste disposed of over the last 55 years by the civil and military nuclear industry at the site, near the Sellafield nuclear complex in west Cumbria, is going to start leaking on to the shoreline in "a few hundred to a few thousand years from now".

    The agency voices concerns about "the potential appearance on the beach and in its accessible surroundings, during the process of erosion, of discrete items carrying a significant burden of radioactivity individually". They could range from tiny particles to larger objects such as hand tools that have become contaminated during use at Britain's nuclear sites then subsequently disposed of at Drigg, the document says.

    Officials at the EA are considering a plan by the companies that run Drigg to dispose of a further 800,000 cubic metres of waste there over the next 100 years. This will include radioactive debris from Britain's nuclear power stations, nuclear submarines, nuclear weapons, hospitals and universities.

    Environmentalists argue that continuing to use the site is "unethical, unsustainable and highly dangerous". But this is rejected by Drigg's operators, who describe the risks as "insignificant".

    The EA document, dated 9 January 2014, sets out the agency's latest assessment of the risks of coastal erosion at Drigg. It was released by the EA this month in response to a request from The Guardian.

    Erosion from storms and rising sea levels caused by climate change has "emerged as the expected evolution scenario" for Drigg, it says. Experts have concluded that this is almost bound to happen.


    The site, which covers about 110 hectares, is between five and 20 metres above sea level. It is run by a consortium led by the US engineering company URS, the French state-owned nuclear company Areva, and the Swedish nuclear firm Studsvik. The consortium has already been asked by the EA to look at options for improved flood defences.

    According to Ian Parker, the EA's nuclear regulation group manager in Cumbria, the agency had reached its latest conclusions after detailed technical assessments. "It's highly probable the coast will erode and the waste will be disrupted," he said.


    Carrying on disposing of waste at Drigg was sustainable and ethical because future generations would be given the same protection as now, Cummings said. "The stringent regulatory requirements we have to meet ensure that even if people in the future forget about the repository and the wastes disposed there, the effects will be insignificant."

    But Martin Forward, from Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment, pointed out that more than 1,200 radioactive particles from Sellafield had been found on nearby beaches in recent years. "The potent threat of rising sea levels makes the future use of the site unsustainable, unethical and highly dangerous for future generations," he said.

  74. The Kimberley has something in common with Hollywood.......

    "Royal Commission into child sex abuse struggles to find Kimberley people to testify"

    Bryan Singer accuser names three others in Hollywood 'paedophile ring'

    The 31-year-old man who last week sensationally named Hollywood heavyweight producer Bryan Singer in a child sex lawsuit has filed three more civil lawsuits against powerful Hollywood figures.

    The three named today are former 20th Century Fox television boss Garth Ancier, former Disney television boss David Neuman and Broadway producer and Universal and Six Flags theme park designer Gary Goddard.


    At those parties the young men were "given drugs, they were given alcohol, sometimes they were threatened, sometimes they were given gifts and promised roles in movies; what we call being groomed," Herman said today.

    Herman said the subjects of the four lawsuits are part of a "ring" of powerful Hollywood figures who were "participants" in the parties, and had sexually assaulted Egan.

    Herman said there were allegations which touched on a number of other figures, but the four names so far were the only four connected to parties in Hawaii as well as Los Angeles. The connection to Hawaii is significant, as it is the jurisdiction in which the lawsuits have been filed.


    Egan's mother, Bonnie Mound, attended the press conference to support her son and delivered an explosive and emotional criticism of the difficulties she faced for the past 14 years in trying to make people, including law enforcement agencies, act on her son's claim.

    She told the press conference that she had first discovered her son was a victim of sexual abuse when he was 17 years old, but that her subsequent pleas for help — to the LAPD, FBI and various media outlets including 60 Minutes and the Oprah Winfrey Show — were ignored.

    Despite interviews with the police and federal agencies, nothing was done, she said. A single journalist attempted to write a story for a magazine, she said, but the story was abandoned after pressure from the Hollywood establishment.


    Barnett fills jails to overflowing - the US has tried that and now admit the mistake.
    Just as in the US it was a racist exercise.

    US to consider clemency requests from thousands of prisoners

    Washington: The Obama administration is beginning an aggressive new effort to foster equity in criminal sentencing by considering clemency requests from as many as thousands of federal inmates serving time for drug offences, officials said.

    The initiative, which amounts to an unprecedented campaign to free non-violent offenders, will begin immediately and continue over the next two years, officials said on Monday. The Justice Department said it expects to reassign dozens of lawyers to its understaffed pardons office to handle the requests from inmates.

    ''The White House has indicated it wants to consider additional clemency applications, to restore a degree of justice, fairness and proportionality for deserving individuals who do not pose a threat to public safety,'' Attorney General Eric Holder said on Monday. ''The Justice Department is committed to recommending as many qualified applicants as possible for reduced sentences.''

    Mr Holder announced a series of initiatives to tackle disparities in criminal penalties, beginning in August, when he said that low-level, non-violent drug offenders with no connection to gangs or large-scale drug organisations would not be charged with offences that call for severe mandatory sentences. He has travelled across the country to highlight community programs in which non-violent offenders have received substance-abuse treatment and other assistance instead of long prison sentences.

    Underlying the initiatives is the belief by top Justice Department officials that the most severe penalties should be reserved for serious, high-level or violent drug traffickers

  75. Government could save $13 bn on mining fuel credits, depreciation: Greens

    The Abbott government could save $13 billion if it fixed a tax distortion that unfairly favoured Australia’s mining industry, the Greens say.

    New costings from the Parliamentary Budget Office show the government could save billions of dollars over the next four years if it abolished so-called fuel tax credits and accelerated depreciation tax concessions for the mining industry.

    Both of those measures give a “huge advantage” to the mining industry over the tourism and manufacturing industries, the Greens say.

    The costings show the federal budget could be strengthened if the government abolished fuel tax credits for mining companies, which are worth more than $5 billion a year.

    The government could also increase its revenue if it dumped exploration tax concessions for the mining industry.

    Greens acting leader Adam Bandt says the government needs to fix the obvious distortion in the tax system that favours some industries over others.

    If it did so, it would not have to go after pensions or services to find savings.

    ''Taxpayers shouldn't fork out billions of dollars each year just so the likes of Gina Rinehart can buy cheap diesel,'' Mr Bandt said.

    ''If the government is ending the age of entitlement, it should start at the top and axe corporate welfare instead of going after pensions or services.

    The Greens asked the PBO to come up with the costings ahead of the anticipated release of the Abbott government’s Commission of Audit report, and before the federal budget on May 13.

    The costing takes into account changes in government policy taken since the mid-year economic and fiscal outlook.

    These changes include the repeal of the minerals resource rent tax from July 1, the cut in the company tax rate to 28.5 per cent from 30 per cent, and the introduction of the paid parental leave scheme levy from July 1 2015.

    Some economic think tanks, such as the Australia Institute, have long argued that fuel tax credits and other concessions are a form of subsidy for the mining industry.

    However, the Minerals Council rejects that suggestion, saying fuel tax credits actually ease the administrative burden on government because it helps the mining industry build and maintain its own roads.

    The Federal Treasury also says fuel tax credits are not a subsidy.

    ''[They are] a mechanism to reduce or remove the incidence of excise or duty levied on the fuel used by business off-road or in heavy on-road vehicles,'' Treasury’s G20 Energy Experts Group said.

    Mining accounts for about 40 per cent of fuel tax credit claims by value in Australia.

    The Abbott government has promised to release the report from the Commission of Audit before the May 13 budget

  76. More disputes over environment decisions likely

    The federal government is braced for a flood of court cases challenging decisions made under its environmental laws.

    Internal Environment Department documents highlight a "marked increase" in cases brought against it since 2011-12 and warn of worse to come.

    The department says litigation against high-profile environmental decisions made under the controversial Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, is one of the biggest risks facing the department.

    The briefing says there was a spike in "requests for explanations" for EPBC decisions, which are often precursors to court cases, in late 2013 and early 2014.

    The department is currently fighting 16 cases in the courts but received 52 requests for reasons, relating to just 17 decisions, between November 2013 and the beginning of April.

    Do you know more? Send your confidential tips to

    It could even find itself in multiple court actions for the same decision, against a mining company unhappy with restrictions placed on its new project and at the same time being sued by environmental activists saying the conditions are not strict enough.

    Environment's internal strategic review is frank in its assessment of the amount of time, and taxpayers' money, it expects to spend in court in the coming months and years.

    "The key litigation risk areas for the department relate to challenges by community and interest groups to high-profile environmental decisions made under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act," the document states.

    "The department expects to receive more claims against it in the near future.

    "Between November 2013 [and] January 2014, the department received a high number of requests for statements of reasons for various EPBC Act decisions, which often precede a party commencing legal action.

    "An increase in claims may contribute to cost overruns for 2013-14."

    In one such high-profile case, the department is being taken to the Federal Court by a Queensland conservation group trying to use the EPBC to overturn Environment Minister Greg Hunt's approval of dredging and dumping in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area for the contentious Abbot Point coal port.

    A spokeswoman for the department said legal action might come from any of a diverse group of interested parties in big or small environmental decisions.

    "Requests [for reasons] were received from proponents, environmental non-government organisations, individuals, businesses and interest groups," she said.

    The department also said it was being sued in a number of different forums.

    "Of the 16 legal claims, four have been filed with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, 10 have been filed with various registries of the Federal Court of Australia, including one in the full court, and two have been filed with the High Court of Australia," the spokeswoman said in her statement.

    But the Environment Department's top public servants in Canberra believe the Abbott government's environmental policies will fundamentally change their role in approvals processes and potentially limit their exposure to legal action.

    The government is looking to sign deals with the states that would establish a "one-stop shop" for environmental approvals, sidelining the EPBC Act, which has been on the books since the Howard government.

    "The one-stop-shop reforms will fundamentally change the role of the Commonwealth and the department in the area of environmental regulation," the strategic review states.

    "The scale of change may not be apparent until the finalisation of agreements with states and territories. However, reductions in the current assessment and approvals function have been anticipated."

  77. Clive Palmer threatens to block carbon and mining tax repeals

    Guardian Australia exclusive: PUP leader says if government 'plays games' over emissions reduction fund 'they need to be politically punished'

    Clive Palmer is threatening to block both the carbon and mining tax repeals if the Abbott government “plays games” by including its Direct Action climate change fund in budget appropriation bills to avoid its defeat in the Senate.

    And the mining magnate-politician challenged Tony Abbott to hold a double dissolution election if he didn’t like the stance the Palmer United party was taking on key issues, claiming such a poll would only enhance his party’s position.

    On Monday Palmer hardened his already unenthusiastic position on the government’s $1.5bn “emissions reduction fund” – the centrepiece of Direct Action – saying it was “dead”, “finished” and “over” because Palmer United party senators believed the money would be better spent on pensions.

    The environment minister, Greg Hunt, responded by repeating a tactic the government foreshadowed last year – that the money for the emissions reduction fund could be included in the budget appropriations bills which cannot be amended in the Senate.

    "The funds will be part of the budget papers and I doubt the budget will be blocked, unless we're going to be forced into a constitutional issue," Hunt told the ABC.

    Palmer responded by saying that “if the government wants to try to play smart … then two can play at that game”.

    “You tell them that if they do that [include the emissions reduction fund in the budget] we will immediately reconsider our position on the carbon and mining tax repeals,” Palmer told Guardian Australia.

    “If they play games like that they need to be politically punished … and reconsidering our support for the carbon and mining tax repeal would be one thing we would definitely consider.”

    Palmer said if Abbott “didn’t like that answer he could always have a double dissolution election … but of course then he would be going to the people on the basis of what he really wants to do to them, which will be revealed in the budget, and in a double dissolution election we would only need a quota of 7% rather than 14% so I think we would double our number of senators.

    “But if Tony Abbott wants a double dissolution election he can have one, we’re fine with that.”

  78. Could this be the end?

    I don't know - I've never been this far before.
    (down the comments page)

    Hope u r well Red - once again I am away on my travels hope to catchup when I get back.

    Signed :

    the green reader




    "..............The age pension is among the items being considered with a graduated move in the eligibility age to 70, regarded as all but inevitable.

    There has also been widespread speculation that the rate of growth of education spending will be checked despite promises before the election that the coalition was on a "unity ticket" with Labor on schools funding.

    The introduction of a $6 Medicare co-payment for GP visits aimed at raising $750 million over four years has also been reported in recent days.

    That would be designed to act as a disincentive to those suspected of over-using GP services because they are free.

    However, the government is not likely to accept all recommendations. Options to wind back Prime Minister Tony Abbott's "gold-plated" paid parental leave scheme, which will pay six months' pay to parents earning up to $150,000 a year, are set to be ignored."



    "Australia will make one of its biggest ever military purchases with a $12 billion order for 58 Joint Strike Fighters in a move that will lift the nation's air combat power to among the world's most advanced.

    On top of the two fighters that Australia has already paid for, and a further 12 that have been ordered, the large new purchase will deliver the Royal Australian Air Force three squadrons of the planes and cement its place as the dominant air power in the region.

    The government is keeping open the option of buying another squadron of up to 24 fighters, taking Australia's fleet of the cutting-edge planes close to 100.



    Addressing speculation of a reduction in the number of future subs, the minister repeated his commitment to capability.

    “There has been a lot of speculation about whether we need 12 boats,” he said.

    “Let me make clear that my primary focus is not on numbers but on the capability and availability of boats required to meet the tasks set by Government.

    “As part of the White Paper process we will re-examine the strategic objectives of the future submarine program including the number of submarines required at sea and therefore the total number of submarines.”

    Johnston said the finalisation of the Federal Government’s submarine strategy would be worked through over the remainder of this year.

    “I propose to take to Government this year, in support of the White Paper, a plan that balances up cost, capability and risk.

    “I am closely engaged in this project and the resolutions I take to my colleagues will of necessity provide assurance that there will be no capability gap, and that we will deliver a regionally superior and affordable conventional submarine capability sustainable in Australia over the foreseeable future.”


    The plan for 12 new submarines was expected to cost between $40 billion and $50 billion



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