Fracking facts in the South West of WA

July 1st, 2016

An editorial in the Busselton-Dunsborough Mail claims there’s no case for fracking in regional Western Australia, but the piece ignores the facts.

Firstly it’s worth noting that not all wells require hydraulic fracturing, as some may be permeable enough to allow the oil or gas to flow without the additional stimulation provided by hydraulic fracturing, such as conventional reservoirs.

Of the four petroleum exploration permits in the South West, none of those are advanced enough yet to even consider the use of hydraulic fracturing. A technology which in Australia can be traced back over 40 years where it was used in the production of energy resources including conventional natural gas.

The Western Australian Department of Mines and Petroleum recently released an open letter to clarify misleading and incorrect comments made by activist groups regarding exploration permits and leases in the State’s South West.

Aquifers, such as the Yarragadee, in proximity to the well bore are be protected by both natural and mechanical barriers. An Operator’s mechanical barrier is the multiple layers of steel casing plus cement and impermeable layers of rock also prevent water migration.

The structural and technical design of a well bore is fundamental in the planning process. For maximum protection, well bores contain multiple layers of steel casing and cement to form a multi-layer barrier separating the well bore and the subsurface environment.

In Western Australia, each well design is scrutinised by the Department of Mines and Petroleum and requires its approval before any drilling operation can commence.

The editorial also references a 2014 report from IDDRI which analysed the role U.S. shale gas has played in reducing carbon dioxide emissions. Unfortunately, the report completely mischaracterises energy and emissions trends in the United States, rendering its conclusions flawed and largely meaningless.

In 2014, when the report was published, U.S. carbon emissions were at their lowest level since 1994, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which provides official energy statistics from the U.S. government.

The EIA stated that: “Despite the overall decline in renewables, the carbon intensity of power generation still fell by 3.5 percent, due largely to the increase in the share of natural gas generation”.

Finally, claims made that industry, tourism and agriculture cannot coexist are fundamentally flawed.

Since the 1960s, more than 200 oil and gas wells have been drilled in the Perth Basin, in the State’s Mid-West, with gas produced from multiple fields, while agriculture and tourism have flourished.

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