Something smells off, and it’s not the gas

January 8th, 2015

UPDATE: 14 January 2015:

A preliminary investigation into a leaking gas well in the Canning Basin, Western Australia, by Western Australia’s Department of Mines and Petroleum has confirmed suspicions that the well wasn’t leaking as a result of poor equipment or maintenance, but appears to have been sabotaged.

The leaking well was designed to be an activist’s “gotcha” moment. Vision of a gas meter with ‘off the scale’ readings was distributed to the media, and confected outrage soon followed.

Instead, the issue has now figuratively (and luckily, not literally) blown up in the activists faces.

According to media reports, the matter has now been referred to the police in Broome who have visited the site.

DMP executive director Jeff Haworth has confirmed the damage to the valve was deliberate.

“DMP’s preliminary investigation identified unauthorised access to the site and significant, deliberate damage to a valve on the well head,” he said in a written statement.

Mr Haworth said the vandalism and subsequent filming of the gas had put lives at risk.

“It is extremely dangerous to take electrical equipment that is not properly certified into a hazardous location, such as the gas meter in the video,” he said.

The investigation has also found the gas was not leaking constantly, but only released when the valve was deliberately manipulated.

So the question that now needs answering, who would intentionally risk their own life to sabotage a valve?

This incident demonstrates the lengths activists will go to in their campaign against onshore oil and gas, showing again how far anti-industry groups are prepared to go to deceive the community to achieve their own political agendas.

Original story: 8 January 2015

When a local activist group notified the Western Australian Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) of what it claimed was a “dangerous gas leak” at Buru Energy’s Yulleroo-2 well site, the State regulator was quick to respond.

But something didn’t seem quite right about the sensational claims being made, and so it would seem, the facts have proven that to be the case.

As reported here, the cause of the methane leak, which has since been recorded as minor, was due to a damaged valve stem.

So what else did the regulator find?

The DMP inspectors registered low-level readings, with methane levels below the department’s lower explosive limit, and well below the claimed readings that kick-started this episode

“The minor gas leak poses minimal risk and the valve will be repaired as quickly as possible,” DMP petroleum division executive director Jeff Haworth is reported as saying.

In addition, the DMP have considered the actual cause of the damaged valve stem, reportedly stating that it “appears at this stage there has been no equipment or process failure by Buru”.

The DMP is having a closer look at the cause of the incident, with Jeff Haworth telling the West Australian that:

“The damage presents a serious concern if a third party has been involved. In light of the serious nature of the damage involved, the department will be investigating further.”

So, it appears the activists have (yet again) created unnecessary and unfounded public concern in their ongoing quest to attempt to demonise hydraulic fracturing.

We can’t say we are surprised by their tactics. After all, they got their 15 minutes of fame.

So if the company is not at fault, then how did the damage occur? We’ll let you draw your own conclusions….

This is not a case of tomatoe/tomato; this is a case of “major” versus “minor”, where the results appear contrived, the intent is clear and the cause of the leak, rather than the leak itself, stinks.

Some may even question why local activists illegally entered the site in the first place, putting their own health and safety at risk.

If they expect the companies to abide by the rules set out before them, then should they not do the same?


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  1. Andrew on 10 January, 2015 Reply

    if activists are going to “engineer” incidents to further their misleading views are they going to face legal consequences?? Also it is way past time that the State and Commonwealth governments enacted laws requiring that activists prove their claims and statements with the same penalties and enforcement as applied to every other industry.

  2. Louise on 26 January, 2015 Reply

    When the whistleblowers shared their visual evidence of very dangerous levels of methane gas leaking at Buru Energy’s Yulleroo 2 well-site, it was surprising but not unexpected that they would be doubted by government departments, tarnished by the media, accursed of criminal acts by the operator and investigated by the police.

    Its was a strategy designed to shift the attention away from the real issues of a major methane & radon leak and the Department of Mines and Petroleum failure to undertake regular compliance monitoring of Buru Energy’s Yulleroo well sites as described under the Mining Act 1978.

    Compliance and enforcement is crucially very importance in ensuring community confidence in the regulations and approvals process. This issue has been raised in recent reviews, including the Office of Auditor General’s Report and DMP’s mining securities system. The EPA’s submission to WA Parliament Inquiry into fracking called for through transparent and open communication, by both regulators and proponents.

    The lack of well integrity and other outstanding environmental issues of Buru Energy’s & Mitsubishi in Yulleroo were first raised in April 2013 to the Department Environment Regulations. These issues were highlighted in a Peered Report in January 2014 prepared for the Yawuru Corporation and in correspondence from DMP’s to Buru obtained under freedom of Information. Many questions have also been raised in Parliament about Buru’s numerous environmental impacts management failures.

    This serious gas leak has nothing to do with a so called sabotaged value, its about the whole well structural integrity, the quality of the casting and the reliability of the cerement cap. Bringing into question all of Buru Energy’s & Mitsubishi well sites across the Kimberley region and DMP ability to regulate.

    Major works at Yulleroo site have been undertaken to stop this leakage. However, the question remains how can the public be assured that there has been no groundwater contamination of aquifers as a result of these failed poorly constructed wells?

    Buru Energy has plans to continue fracking in our Roebuck Wetlands, our water catchment bowl directly and interdependently linked to our ground water and our RAMAR listed Roebuck Bay. Until there is a complete and through Independent Well Integrity Verification of all of Buru Energy’s & Mitsubishi wells, their current proposed fracking regime within the Canning Basin needs to be halted.

  3. ERIC on 29 January, 2015 Reply

    Thanks for your comments Louise. We’ll quote directly from a Buru Energy operations update which can be accessed here – – and which says the following:

    “The integrity of the well casing and tubing and downhole components was confirmed during the operation.”


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