Monday, May 12, 2014


Proposed drilling fluid supply base facility on the foreshore of Roebuck Bay 

MI Australia is not operating as responsible corporate citizen, cannot perform to World Best Practise and have continued operating illegally without the appropriate approvals or licences?

MI Australia are currently operating without appropriate approvals in accordance with the Environmental Protection Regulations 1987 Category 73 & Category 75 at their sites on Decastillia Street and the OTS (Port Drive) storage of bulk chemicals and the mixing of chemicals.

In Broome, on the 23rd January 2014 the Kimberley Joint Development Assessment Panel issued conditional planning approval for proposed drilling fluids facility on the foreshore of Roebuck Bay. In accordance with one of the conditions, the applicant needed to prepare an OEMP, which was open for public comment.

MI Australia current unlicensed activities and proposed new development is causing emissions and discharges to air, land and or water?

MI Australia can not be trusted to undertake compliance or be delegated to be self monitoring given their non - compliance history and questionable management abilities.

Regulatory Obligations
M-I Australia Pty Ltd states within their OEMP that one of their key policy objectives is ‘compliance with environmental legislation'. M-I Australia, its staff and its Contractors are required under the Environmental Protection Act 1986 (EP Act) to prevent environmental harm, and also have a duty of care under common law to protect the environment from foreseeable risks.

MI Australia clearly have all the necessary template dialogue to appear convincing in their stewardship of the environment however current history has proven that they are incapable of professional management of such a toxic and dangerous industry. They have failed to demonstrate to this community that they can function with proficiently or conscientiously. They should not be permitted to operate on the very foreshore of Roebuck Bay.

In their OEMP, they are adamant that Under the Schedule 1 of the Environmental Protection Regulations 1987, the M-I Australia facility will comprise Category 73 & 75 Prescribed Premises (refer section 2 for additional detail). A License to operate under Part V of the EP Act is therefore required at the Site.

However, it needs to be clearly understood that MI Australia are currently operating without appropriate approvals or licences in accordance with the Environmental Protection Regulations 1987 Category 73 & Category 75 at their sites on Lot 30 No 6 De Castilla Street and the OTS (Port Drive) in Broome. 

Department of Environmental Regulations have investigated and have confirmed in writing, months ago that MI DO NOT HOLD THE APPROPRIATE LICENCES however they failed to prosecution under the Act and this corporation continues to operate and in fact expand their operations and toxic wastes streams. DER also stated in this correspondence that MI Australia has now made an application to DER for the relevant approvals required at both current sites. However, to date MI Australia’s applications have not been advertised in accordance with Environmental Protection Regulations 1987 5CAA. Manner of advertising prescribed (Act s. 54(2a) (1) & (2) for their existing sites.

The EP Act requires a works approval to be obtained before constructing prescribed industrial premises and a licence or registration to operate the premises. MI Australia has not even applied for additional approvals for their proposed new site on the foreshore of Roebuck Bay?

Proposed location Broome Port within red lines
Under Section 38(1) of the Environmental Protection Act 1986 (EP Act) this proposal was referred to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) for a decision on assessment level. The EPA's decided not to assess was appealed.

The Office of the Appeals Convenor, is currently investigating these appeals lodged in objection to the Environmental Protection Authority’s decision. It is my understanding that these appeals were heard the week starting Monday 28th April 2014.

Public Comments on this OEMP closed on 24 April 2014, four days before the Appeals Convenor started their deliberations. This issue and this ineffectual OEMP should not come before the Broome Shire Council for endorsement until the Appeals Convenor of the Environment Minister hands down their decision.

Town Planning Scheme No 4
Under the provisions of the Shire of Broome Town Planning Scheme No 4 (TPS4) any industry activity that requires licensing as a “Prescribed Premise’ under the Environment Protection Act 1986 is defined as ‘Industry Noxious’ Industry Noxious is a D use within the Industry zone.

The Shire of Brome, on the 11 April 2007 issued a Planning Approval for ‘Industrial Development –Warehouse’ for Lot 30 No 6 DeCastilla Street. Application for a Change of Use from Industrial development – Warehouse to Noxious Industry Under TPS4 needs to be addressed and to date has not been undertaken.


  1. The dirty lowdown on drilling mud - here's mud in your eye!
    There has been a mud plant explosion - accidents do happen.


    A fatal accident caused by
    bacterial hydrogen production in
    an atmospheric storage tank
    Trygve Skjold 1,2 & Kees van Wingerden 1
    1 GexCon AS
    2 University of Bergen

    The accident
    The investigation
    Similar accidents in the past
    Avoiding similar accidents


    The accident
    Drilling fluids, or “mud”, are typically oil-water emulsions:
    ‘base oil’ (continuous phase), water (dispersed phase),
    and emulsifying agents.
    Used drilling mud, or “slop”, is mud enriched with water
    and rock cuttings from drilling: 60-80 % water, 10-20 %
    emulated base oil, and 10-20 % cuttings.
    The content of slop tanks on oil platforms are transported
    to onshore facilities for further processing.
    The explosion took place on 27 May 2006 in a 1600 m3
    storage tank at an onshore processing facility for slop.


    A steady stream of pollution from offshore rigs causes a wide range of health and reproductive problems for fish and other marine life. Offshore drilling exposes wildlife to the threat of oil spills that would devastate their populations. Offshore drilling activities destroy kelp beds, reefs and coastal wetlands.

    •Dump more than 90,000 metric tons of drilling fluid and metal cuttings into the ocean.

    •Drill between 50-100 wells, each dumping 25,000 pounds of toxic metals, such as lead, chromium and mercury, and potent carcinogens like toluene, benzene, and xylene into the ocean.
    •Pollute the air as much as 7,000 cars driving 50 miles a day. (compiled by Rainforest Action Network, courtesy Mendocino Environmental Center)


    Chemical additives are used in the primary stages of drilling and in the fluids prepared for the fracking process. Drilling muds or slurries are a mixture of chemicals and fluids used to facilitate boring. Although fracturing fluids are more commonly known to contain chemicals linked to cancer, organ damage, nervous system disorders and birth defects,[8] drilling muds or slurries can contain a number of the same chemical constituents used in fracturing fluids.[9]



    Then there are the drilling fluids contaminating the seafloor near the wellhead. Euphemistically called muds, these heavy fluids are pumped into wells to keep the highly pressurized oil and gas from exploding upward. BP's drilling muds have been pouring out of the wellhead, along with 30,000 barrels added in its failed "top kill" and other efforts to plug the leak. Along with oil, methane, methanol, and Corexit, drilling fluids add their own frightening recipe to the disaster: arsenic, lead, mercury, cadmium, barite, fluoride, chrome lignosulfonate, vanadium, copper, aluminum, chromium, zinc, radionuclides, and other heavy metals. Relief wells require pumping thousands more barrels of drilling fluid into the reservoir, with all the same risks of explosion attending the original well. The EPA estimates these drilling fluids will pose a threat to the seafloor and surrounding waters for up to 40 years. Plus a recent study finds that oil spills create a whole new pathway for arsenic (pdf) pollution in the sea. The oil prevents seafloor sediments from bonding with and burying arsenic that naturally occurs in the ocean. This shutdown of the natural filtration system allows arsenic levels to rise from the deep water to the surface, disrupting photosynthesis in phytoplankton, increasing birth defects and triggering behavioral changes in marine life, and killing animals that feed on poisoned prey.


    A drilling mud is proposed which contains clay, water, water-soluble resin, for example, carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) and inhibitor of microbiological breakdown. It is distinguished by the fact that in order to simplify the technology of preparing the drilling mud by reducing the operations of introducing the inhibitor into the mud, it contains as the inhibitor of microbiological breakdown 1,2-di(benzylamino)-propane with the following content of components (% by weight): clay 5.0-20.0, water-soluble resins, for example, CMC 0.5-1.5; 1,2-Di(benzylamino) propane 0.5-1.0; water--the rest.


    A drilling mud is proposed which contains water and additive. It is distinguished by the fact that in order to increase the stability of the well walls by reducing the absorption of the mud, it contains as an additive a mixture of aluminum chloride hydrate and calcium carbonate in a ratio of 2:1 with the following ratio of components (% by weight): mixture of aluminum chloride hydrate and calcium carbonte 30-40; water-the rest.


    A drilling mud is proposed which contains clay, carboxymethylcellulose, inhibitor of thermooxidation destruction and water. It is distinguished by the fact that in order to improve the thermal resistance of fresh and mineralized drilling muds to temperatures of 245-265/sup 0/C, the inhibitor contained for thermooxidation destruction is a mixture of sodium hydroxide and copper pentasulfate with the following ratio of components (% by weight): clay 3.0-30; carboxymethylcellulose 1.0-3.0; sodium hydroxide 0.1-1.2; copper pentasulfate 0.0075-0.090; water--the rest.


    A drilling mud is proposed which contains clay, water and organic additive. It is distinguished by the fact that in order to reduce the water output of the drilling mude under conditions of polymineral aggression, it contains as the organic additive a modified melamine formaldehyde resin with the following ratio of components (% by weight): clay 5.0-10.0; modified melamine formaldehyde resin 0.5-3.0; water--the rest.


    There are any number of these.



    Another problem is that it’s really hard to keep track of all the stuff that may become tainted by radioactive materials in the drilling process. Millions of gallons of soupy wastewater that flow back from wells after drilling and fracking can end up in a number of places. ,,,,,,,,,,,,. It also ends up contaminating drilling mud (a more solid waste from the process), storage tanks, and equipment.

    “Radionuclides in these wastes are primarily radium-226, radium-228, and radon gas,” reports the Environmental Protection Agency. “The radon is released to the atmosphere, while the produced water and mud containing radium are placed in ponds or pits for evaporation, reuse, or recovery.”



    · There is more than a spill a day in the Prudhoe Bay Oil Fields. Oil company paid $3 million in EPA fines in 1998 for illegal drilling waste dumping at the Endicott oil field, touted as one of the most environmentally and technologically advanced.

    On Alaska’s North Slope, there has been an average of 427 spills each year since 1996 from oil industry activities, according to Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation records.[43] Over 1.2 million gallons spilled in this 3-year period. Diesel and crude oil spills are most common.

    About 40 different substances from acid to waste oil were spilled from routine oil field operations. Hydraulic oil, ethylene glycol, produced water, methanol, engine lube oil, drilling muds, seawater, corrosion inhibitors, and halon were also frequently dumped. The largest spill occurred at a site where drilling wastes are injected below the ground; produced water seeped from 9 wellheads at a rate of 420-9600 gallons per minute resulting in the largest spill (994,400 gallons). There were also diesel, crude, and produced water spills greater than 5,000 gallons. Spills were most commonly caused by leaks, ruptured lines, valves that were faulty or left open, seal failures, tanker overfills, faulty connections, vent discharges, and corrosion. Spills were due to vehicles breaking through the ice, crashing, rolling over, and collisions; grounding, hull failure, explosion, fire, high winds, and other factors. Few of these spills received any detailed study.

    ..................[44] Even relatively small spills, such as ethylene glycol, have caused death when polar bears lick it up.[45] Produced water or seawater spilled from wells and pipelines kill vegetation with long-lasting damage. The oil industry often says that many oil spills are to gravel pads, not directly to tundra, implying there are no consequences but many of these sites become severely contaminated.[46]

    Two recent examples of illegal waste disposal at the Endicott and Alpine oil fields show continued flawed practices. During horizontal drilling of the unprecedented Colville River pipeline crossing for ARCO’s Alpine field, 2.3 million gallons of drilling muds were lost under the river in 1998.[47] It is still unknown where they ended up and if they will ultimately pollute Alaska’s largest arctic river.

    At the Endicott oil field, illegal disposal of drilling wastes by drilling contractors to British Petroleum took place for five years.[48] Workers were instructed to violate environmental regulations and inject hazardous waste oil and solvents into unsealed outer well shafts where drilling muds can be legally injected.[49] However, substances can reach groundwater at such wells, and at the Endicott well some of the waste reached the surface and workers were exposed to hazardous fumes. The Federal Court fined Doyon Drilling Inc. $3 million in 1998, and the Justice Department criminal investigation continues. This problem came to light not from an environmental monitoring program, but due to a whistleblower's actions.[50]


    Protect WA's Roebuck Bay

    Send a message to the WA Government to protect Roebuck Bay's incredible marine life

    The WA Government is considering a new marine park in Roebuck Bay, home to turtles, dugongs, the mighty mud crab and the biggest known population of Australia’s own snubfin dolphin. ‘Snubbies’ were only discovered in 2005 and are unique to northern Australia.

    Ask them to create a marine sanctuary in the most isolated and pristine part of the Bay to ensure a healthy future for Roebuck’s incredible marine life.

    Fill in your details and let the Premier and Environment Minister know you want our Snubbies protected!

    Fast facts

    • The snubfin dolphin was only discovered in 2005 and is unique to Northern Australia.

    • The biggest known population of snubfin dolphins lives in Roebuck Bay, but there are only a few hundred dolphins.

    • Roebuck Bay is also significant for other wildlife, including dugong and turtles, with a range of habitats from tidal mudflats and mangroves to deep water reefs.

    • A recent scientific paper showed that marine sanctuaries increase the abundance of mud crabs both inside and outside of the sanctuary, with benefits for the environment and fishers. Marine sanctuaries and great fishing go hand in hand.

    • Roebuck Bay is of great cultural significance to the Yawaru people who are the Traditional Owners of the Bay.

    • The Roebuck Bay wetlands and mudflats support huge numbers of migrating birds and are listed as internationally significant under the Ramsar convention.

    • Creating a marine sanctuary in Roebuck Bay, and making a recent ban on gillnets permanent through marine park zoning, will secure a future for snubfin dolphins and other unique marine life.


    Prosecutors file murder charges against Jairo Mora’s alleged killers

    May 6th, 2014


    On Monday, after more than nine months in preventive detention, the seven men suspected of participating in the killing of Costa Rican sea turtle conservationist Jairo Mora last May were formally charged with murder and a host of other offenses.

    All seven men — with the last names Aráuz, Cash, Centeno, Delgado, Quesada and two brothers with the last name Salmón — were charged with homicide, two counts of sexual abuse and four counts of kidnapping. Four of the defendants — the older Salmón, Quesada, Centeno and Cash — also were charged with rape in a separate incident.

    A woman with the last name Delgado, who was in possession of Mora’s cellphone during a police raid in July, was charged with possession of stolen property.

    Now that formal charges have been filed, a trial date will be set in coming months. The Limón Prosecutor’s Office has requested the trial be public.

    For the full story of slain conservationist Jairo Mora, check out our story: Why Jairo died.

    Read at the Tico Times.



    Galilee Basin coalmine: Queensland government granted approval despite expert environmental concerns

    By the National Reporting Team's Mark Solomons and Mark Willacy

    Australia's biggest coalmine project has been given the green light despite serious environmental concerns raised by experts appointed by the Commonwealth.

    The Queensland Government last week approved Indian company Adani's plan for a giant mine in the Galilee Basin west of Rockhampton.

    The $16.5 billion project would be the largest coal mine in the nation and one of the biggest in the world, covering 200 square kilometres and producing about 60 million tonnes of coal a year.

    The Federal Government must decide on final approval by early next month.

    In giving it the go-ahead with conditions, the State Government sided with Adani against the Independent Expert Scientific Committee (IESC) on coal seam gas and large coal mining developments, set up in 2012 to advise state and federal governments.

    The committee was mainly worried about the impact of the mine on groundwater in the underlying and adjacent Great Artesian Basin.

    It said it had "little confidence" in much of the modelling used by Adani and highlighted gaps in its data.

    The IESC said not enough was known about how the coal seams connect to the Great Artesian Basin, or the likely effects of mining.

    The committee also said it was worried about the cumulative impacts of the Carmichael project when added to other large mining schemes in the area, as well as the risk of flooding and discharges from the mine into creeks and rivers.

    The ABC has obtained the 150-page response by Adani's consultant, engineering firm GHD, to the concerns raised by the IESC.

    It shows that Adani's experts rejected some of the committee's findings as scientifically flawed and proposed to deal with many of the gaps in data it identified by monitoring conditions after mining begins.

    Audio: Listen to Mark Willacy's report (PM)

    The State Government also hired its own expert, hydrologist Dr Noel Merrick, to rebut some of the IESC's concerns.

    Dr Merrick wrote a short but damning paper, in which he agreed with the state mines department that some of the IESC's concerns about groundwater flow should be "ignored".

    All of the matters he had been asked to look at "have been shown to be false", Dr Merrick wrote.

    He argued that the IESC had fundamentally misunderstood how water flows underground.

    The Queensland coordinator-general, approving the mine with 190 conditions, accepted there were gaps in data relating to groundwater, particularly regarding the Doongmabulla Springs Complex, a nationally important wetland that is already under threat.

    But the coordinator-general shifted responsibility for the missing information to Adani, requiring it to implement "a groundwater monitoring plan in order to address groundwater modelling uncertainties".

  7. Galilee Basin coalmine: Queensland government granted approval despite expert environmental concerns

    Environmental monitoring 'in doubt'

    Environmentalist Drew Hutton, from the Lock The Gate Alliance, said Carmichael was "a huge project".

    "We're talking about six pits, two underground mines, without knowing what the impact will be," he said.

    Mr Hutton described the IESC as "their independent committee, that's full of the best brains in this country when it comes to knowledge about water, not the donkeys up here in Queensland who just simply tick off any half-baked project put before them".

    The IESC declined to provide its chair, Lisa Corbyn, former chief executive of the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage, for interview.

    Asked whether it had ignored the IESC's concerns, Queensland Premier Campbell Newman said "there are different views on these things all the time".

    "But I can assure people that all the necessary conditions to protect the environment are there and that decision is there for all to see, there are hundreds of pages of conditions," he said.

    Mr Newman has signed a 30-year "partnership agreement" with the mining industry, saying: "I have said famously or infamously that we are in the coal business - I again reiterate that today".

    Queensland's ability to monitor the compliance of mining projects with their environmental conditions is in doubt after a damning report by the state's auditor-general earlier this year.

    It found the state's environment department was "not fully effective in its supervision, monitoring and enforcement of environmental conditions and is exposing the state to liability and the environment to harm unnecessarily".

    The Federal Government's pre-budget National Commission of Audit, which recommended dozens of government bodies be abolished or merged, marked the IESC for "other action" but did not specify what it was recommending.

    Analysts have predicted that Adani might delay or even drop the Carmichael project because of a collapse in the international coal price and high levels of debt at its Australian subsidiary.

    However, the company could be boosted by the expected victory of Narendra Modi in the general elections in India that reach their climax tonight.

    Adani founder Gautam Adani is a close associate of Mr Modi and their careers have been closely intertwined.

    The share price of Adani's Indian parent company has been rising along with Mr Modi's political fortunes.

    A Modi victory could lead to new contracts for Adani to sell foreign coal in India.

    Adani did not respond to a request for comment.

    Do you know more? Email

  8. Budget emergency ? Nah just more of the same old same old.


    Budget pain? Not for millionaires who pay no tax

    The latest tax statistics show 75 ultra-high earning Australians paid no tax at all in 2011-12. Zero. Zip.

    Each earned more than $1 million from investments or wages. Between them they made $195 million, an average of $2.6 million each.

    The fortunate 75 paid no income tax, no Medicare levy and no Medicare surcharge, even though 60 of them had private health insurance.

    The reason? They managed to cut their combined taxable incomes to $82. That’s right, $1.10 each.

    Cutting taxable income that far doesn’t come cheap.

    Forty-five of the uber millionaires claimed a total of $64.4 million for the “cost of managing their tax affairs”. That’s a staggering $1.4 million each. (As a point of comparison an entry-level H&R Block consultation costs $49.)

    At face value the figures suggest these super high earners were prepared to spend an unlikely half of their incomes on tax advice. A more likely explanation is that they received far greater incomes than they reported and spent only a portion on tax advice.

    It wasn’t wasted.

    Ten of the millionaires claimed between them $1.3 million in work-related deductions, for things such as car expenses and clothing. Ten claimed a total of $5 million for donations and gifts, a category that includes political as well as charitable donations.

    And they ran loss-making businesses.


    It isn’t only millionaires. Tax Office figures show there are 1095 Australians earning in excess of $150,000 who pay no tax. Half of them sought tax advice and shelled out an impressive total of $98 million, which works out to $223,000 each. Their biggest lurk is negative gearing. Most lose large sums on properties they rent out in order to destroy their taxable incomes, hoping to make it up later when they sell the properties for a lightly taxed profit.

    None of them will pay the deficit reduction levy. None of them will report taxable incomes above the threshold.

    But even if they did, Tuesday night’s budget wouldn’t be spreading the pain all round.


    But the levy will be temporary. It will apply for only a few years until the budget is back in shape. By contrast the Medicare co-payment will be permanent. So too will be the twice-yearly increases in petrol excise. So too will be tougher rules of accessing unemployment benefits. So too will be the tougher restrictions on access to the disability support benefit.

    Australia’s highest earners, even the bulk of them who actually confess to their incomes, will suffer for only a short time while lower earning Australians suffer year in, year out.

    Asked how he would respond to a levy on high earners, Labor treasury spokesman Chris Bowen unaccountably said he was minded to oppose it.

    “That's our position, that we don't like this increase in tax, this deficit levy, and therefore we wouldn't be supporting it,” he said.

    He should have said it should be permanent.


    What Hockey and Mathias Cormann should have done is to tackle high-end perks. The biggest is superannuation, Labor’s creation. The treasury believes the top 1 per cent of the workforce, a mere 130,000 people, get 6 per cent of all the super tax concessions. They are the people who need them the least.

    Late in its term Labor tried to do something about it. It announced a tax of 15 per cent on the previously untaxed earnings of super funds used to support annual income streams in excess of $100,000. It would have hurt a mere 16,000 extremely well off superannuants. Within months of taking office the Coalition canned it. It headed its press release: “Restoring integrity in the Australian tax system”.

    It’s easy to get the impression Tuesday night’s budget will do anything to restore the nation’s finances so long as it doesn’t hurt the really well off. It would be lovely to be proved wrong.

    Peter Martin is economics editor of The Age.

  9. Cash strapped KAROON extends suspension


    Karoon extends trading suspension amid talks over potential funding

    Tue, 13 May 2014

    Karoon Gas has requested an extension of a voluntary suspension of trading pending the release of a material announcement in relation to continued commercial discussions and the company’s funding position.


    Always hard to call this BUT a lot of praying going on for a soft landing in China.

    Also several countries are firing up production as China cools.
    Iran will be interesting to watch over the next couple of years.

    As we know many companies in gas rely on the high oil price to make their expensive gas projects viable.

    Woodside - Buru - Karoon - etc.


    Nigerian crude oil prices ease on weakening refining margins: sources

    Tuesday, 13 May 2014 | 00:00

    Nigerian crude prices are starting to fall as the remaining 15-20 Nigerian June cargoes struggle to sell due to weakening refining margins, trading sources said Monday.

    The remaining unsold cargoes are looking to find a home in Europe, although a fall in regional sweet crudes, particularly in the Mediterranean, is starting to put pressure on light sweet crudes in Nigeria.

    Sources said there were still 15-20 June loading cargoes available, and prices were expected to trend lower if the remaining barrels failed to clear soon. Some spot activity was heard towards the end of last week.

    Qua Iboe was assessed at Dated Brent plus $2.65/barrel Friday. But on Monday, traders were pegging it below $2.60/b.

    "Twenty million Nigerian barrels remain available," a trader said.

    Sources said there were still four to five Qua Iboe June stems unsold in Nigeria. But they added that these cargoes were expected to be kept by the equity holders for their own system.

    "There are still plenty of cargoes on the market, and the offers are still quite high. The grades like Agbami and Akpo sold well, but some grades are struggling. There are still quite a few Brass River cargoes, and the spread between Qua Iboe and the other grades seems to be widening," a second trader said.

    Indian tender demand for June has also been low, which put some pressure on Nigerian crudes.

    State-owned Indian refiners bought just 8.35 million barrels of West African crudes through tenders for loading in June, compared with 13.975 million barrels for May, a fall of 40%, according to Platts data.

    The main reason for the drop was that India's biggest buyer of West African crude, Indian Oil Corp., issued only one June-loading tender compared with three May-loading tenders.

    "[Sentiment] is bearish...I would think the hope of moving barrels East is dead due to the low Middle Eastern OSPs, and I think IOC looking to July confirms that...NWE margins are poor," a third trader said.

    Source: Platts

  10. Minister: Gazprom Gas Deal with China Nearly Ready

    by Reuters

    Monday, May 12, 2014

    MOSCOW, May 12 (Reuters) – Russian Deputy Energy Minister Anatoly Yanovsky said on Monday a long-awaited deal for natural gas producer Gazprom to supply China with gas was close to completion.

    "We hope that the negotiations will be completed as scheduled," Yanovsky told reporters, a little more than a week before President Vladimir Putin visits China. "The contract is, I would say, 98 percent ready."

    Gazprom, Russia's top natural gas producer, has been in talks on gas supplies to China for over a decade. In April, it said it was aiming to finalise the deal this month.

  11. Santos accused of using cynical strategy to lift gas price in Australia

    Anti-coal seam activists present pricing tribunal with 'internal industry report' from Credit Suisse backing their claim

    The energy giant Santos has been accused of employing a “cynical strategy” to increase the price of gas in Australia.

    The anti-coal seam gas activists, Lock the Gates, made the comments on Tuesday after presenting what it said was an “internal industry report” from Credit Suisse to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (Ipart).

    The group cited a March 2014 Credit Suisse report as saying Santos's aim with its Gladstone LNG project “was always as much about raising the domestic gas price, and therefore re-rating large parts of its portfolio outside of [Gladstone LNG], as it was about the project”.

    A Lock the Gates campaigner, Georgina Woods, urged Ipart to rethink a proposed 17 per cent rise in NSW gas prices from 1 July in light of the allegations against Santos.

    “[Santos] entered into a cynical strategy to push up our retail gas prices to re-rate their existing portfolio,” she told reporters after presenting the report to Ipart.

    “We don't think it's fair or equitable for NSW households to be asked to pay for those business decisions.”

    But a Santos spokesperson dismissed the claim.

    “The main driver for the rising gas prices is not the export market – it's the rising cost of getting it out of the ground,” the spokesperson said.

    “The only way to place downward pressure on rising gas prices in NSW is to develop the natural gas reserves that are trapped in the ground.”

  12. Western Antarctic ice sheet collapse has already begun, scientists warn

    Two separate studies confirm loss of ice sheet is inevitable, and will cause up to 4m of additional sea-level rise

    The collapse of the Western Antarctica ice sheet is already under way and is unstoppable, two separate teams of scientists said on Monday.

    The glaciers' retreat is being driven by climate change and is already causing sea-level rise at a much faster rate than scientists had anticipated.

    The loss of the entire western Antarctica ice sheet could eventually cause up to 4 metres (13ft) of sea-level rise, devastating low-lying and coastal areas around the world. But the researchers said that even though such a rise could not be stopped, it is still several centuries off, and potentially up to 1,000 years away.

    The two studies, by Nasa and the University of Washington, looked at the ice sheets of western Antarctica over different periods of time.

    The Nasa researchers focused on melting over the last 20 years, while the scientists at the University of Washington used computer modelling to look into the future of the western Antarctic ice sheet.

    But both studies came to broadly similar conclusions – that the thinning and melting of the Antarctic ice sheet has begun and cannot be halted, even with drastic action to cut the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.

    They also suggest that recent accumulation of ice in Antarctica was temporary.

    “A large sector of the western Antarctic ice sheet has gone into a state of irreversible retreat. It has passed the point of no return,” Eric Rignot, a glaciologist at Nasa and the University of California, Irvine, told a conference call. “This retreat will have major consequences for sea level rise worldwide.”

    The two studies between them suggest sea-level rise will be far greater than envisaged by the United Nations’ IPCC report earlier this year. The IPCC forecast on sea-level rise did not factor in the melting of the western Antarctica ice sheet.

    The Nasa study, to be published in Geophysical Research Letters, studied the retreat of six glaciers in western Antarctica that are already the major drivers of global sea-level rise.

    One of those glaciers, Pine Island, retreated 31km at its centre from 1992-2011. Rignot said all six glaciers together contained enough ice to add an additional 1.2m (4ft) to sea levels around the world.

    In the University of Washington study, which will be published in the journal Science, researchers used detailed topography maps, airborne radar and computer modelling to reach greater certainty about the projected timeline of the ice sheet collapse.

    The study honed in on the Thwaites glacier – a broad glacier that is part of the Amundsen Sea. Scientists have known for years that the Thwaites glacier is the soft underbelly of the Antarctic ice sheet, and first found that it was unstable decades ago.

    The University of Washington researchers said that the fast-moving Thwaites glacier could be lost in a matter of centuries. The loss of that glacier alone would raise global sea level by nearly 2ft.

    Thwaites also acts as a dam that holds back the rest of the ice sheet. Once Thwaites goes, researchers said, the remaining ice in the sheet could cause another 10 to 13ft (3-4m) of global sea-level rise.


    Rignot said that even drastic action to cut greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change could not prevent the collapse.

    “We feel this is at the point where even if the ocean is not warming up, is not providing additional ocean heat, the system is in a sort of chain reaction that is unstoppable,” he told reporters on a conference call.

    The only thing that could hold the glaciers back would be a large hill or big mountain that could block the retreat, Rignot said. But there is none, he said, “So we think it is not going to be stoppable.”