Thursday, 22 May 2014

New front opens in the Northern Territory

The Amadeus Basin region, which is rich with gas and oil deposits, is already the site of test drilling by Santos at Mount Kitty. Drilling at this site, 179km from Uluru, has been suspended following an accident when the drill rig fell over in April.

“This site isn’t far off the highway to Uluru, making it a completely inappropriate place for drilling,” said Jeremy Buckingham, a NSW Greens MP who has been previously critical of Santos’s activity. “This is a culturally significant, environmentally sensitive area worth billions of dollars in tourism. The idea that this area will have gas fields all around one of the most iconic areas on Earth absolutely horrifies us.”

Santos said that there is no truth that drilling will have any effect on Uluru and dismissed concerns that rise from gas flaring would be visible from the famous rock.

“The current drilling is quite some distance from Uluru and even within 75km you won’t see a flame, which is probably not much bigger than a campfire anyway,” Matt Doman, a Santos spokesman, told Guardian Australia.

Since 1993, Santos has managed 63 gas wells, 30 of them using the fracking technique of extracting gas, at a site about 250km west of Alice Springs.

Fracking, which engaged drilling and pumping of materials underground to release trapped gas, has showed controversial elsewhere in Australia, most notably NSW and Queensland. Opponents claim the practice can contaminate groundwater.

Doman said Santos hoped to expand its presence in the Northern Territory, but in an environmentally responsible way.

Many has released their own opinion, i.e, Westhill Consulting Career and Employment, Australia said this might affect the oil and gas industry in Souteast Asian cities such as Singapore, Jakarta, Indonesia, KL, Malyasia and much more.

“It’s very early days to know what the scale will be, although the initial results have been encouraging,” he said. “We hope the expansion activity comes to fruition in a safe and environmentally sustainable manner.

“We take great care in the way we drill and operate. Our track record is testament to the way we do things. We take the impact we have on the surface and sub-surface very seriously indeed.”

In an environmental assessment prepared for the Mount Kitty drilling, Santos identified a risk of “disturbance to cultural heritage sites”, as well as contamination of soil and water. However, Doman said strict procedures had been put in place to avoid those risks, stressing that not all the exploration area would be developed into gas sites.

But Jimmy Cocking, director at the Northern Territory’s Arid Land Environment Centre, said he was concerned over the scale of operations in central Australia.

“If you look at the Northern Territory as a whole, 90% of it is under exploration licence, at a time when 90% of the territory is dependent upon groundwater,” he told Guardian Australia. “We are on the cusp of what the gas companies think is a bonanza. But we have scarce water supplies and a community that won’t benefit from a fly-in, fly-out workforce coming in.

“One of the biggest tourist draw cards for the territory is the sense of wilderness, away from industrialization. This exploration has negative environmental impacts for short-term economic impacts. Some people will make money and the rest of us will be screwed.”