Hydraulic fracturing safe in the south east says SA Government experts
August 21st, 2015
In the current South Australian parliamentary inquiry into unconventional gas development in the State’s south-east, much of the attention has been focussed on the claims being made by activists intent on shutting down the State’s gas industry.
Much less attention has been focused on the science and evidence-based assessment made by the technical experts in the SA Government.
In a submission to the Inquiry from a number of key departments, experts said:
“It is concluded that the potential for deep natural gas in the South East of the state, which may be exploited using fracture stimulation technology, can be trusted to be conducted without significant or unacceptable controlled risks to the environment, people or enterprises and would deliver significant benefits to the wider South Australian community.”
This unequivocal statement was backed up with further detail and definitive statements:
“Fracture stimulation has been demonstrated to be safe and without harm to social, natural or economic environments in more than 700 wells in the Cooper Basin of South Australia.”
And of course that record in the Cooper Basin dates back to the 1960s – so there has been plenty of time to detect any harmful effects should they have occurred.
The safe record of conventional gas extraction is even deeper and longer, and there is no reason to regard fracture stimulation as posing any greater risk, the submission noted
It also directly rebuffed the unsupported claims of damage to agriculture, and emphasised the strong record of co-existence of agriculture and extractive industry, even in the Coonawarra wine-growing region of the SA South-East:
“ Conventional gas exploration, development, production, processing and transport have been conducted for over 100 years in the South Australian Otway Basin, which includes over 100 petroleum wells drilled. Despite these activities being located in the highly valued Coonawarra wine growing region of the South East, the landowners concerned have been demonstrably able to continue their various agricultural activities in compatible, contemporaneous coexistence with the petroleum activities. Outcomes have been demonstrably safe and without significant, perceptible, associated, negative impacts on natural environments, enterprises or the health and safety of people. The additional potential risks associated with fracture stimulation are considered to be similar to conventional drilling, and manageable.”
The considered views of the SA Government’s expert advisers are in stark contrast to those of the activist community.
It will be interesting to see the final report of the Parliamentary inquiry – and how activists interpret the very clear conclusion of the most authoritative experts in South Australia.