A well stimulation technique has a negligible effect on Queensland’s natural environment, the national science agency has found.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) conducted a three-year study into the air, water and soil impacts of hydraulic fracturing across the Surat Basin.
After reviewing findings from the study, the federally funded agency found practically no evidence to back-up claims from anti-mining activists that fracking harms air quality, soils, groundwater and waterways.
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The Federal Government used the findings to propose further investment in gas exploration and development across the nation.
“Best practice fracking operations that have been adopted in the basin had little to no environmental impact, even water produced directly from the wells showed no chemical residues above normal background levels within 40 days of the fracking operation taking place,” Federal Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said in a public statement.
“It dispels the misinformation anti-gas activists have been spreading about the coal-seam gas (CSG) industry, which is poised to deliver thousands of new jobs and millions of dollars in new revenue … I am hopeful will attract more resources companies to consider investing in CSG and other unconventional gas developments.”
The Queensland Resources Council (QRC) applauded Pitt’s announcement and described the study as proof of sustainable CSG development in the Sunshine State.
“This study is clear evidence to policy-makers that our gas reserves are being developed sustainably and successfully for Queensland, and there is no credible scientific or environmental reason to constrain the further development of these reserves,” QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said in a public statement.
“The study vindicates the bi-partisan support for the Queensland liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry over more than a decade. In 2018-19, the oil and gas industry provided an $8 billion injection to the Queensland economy and supported almost 40,000 jobs. That contribution is even more precious today with the severe economic impacts of COVID-19.”
The Victorian Government recently lifted a moratorium on onshore conventional gas exploration and development. Major economic benefits are expected when the Garden State completely lifts its ban sometime in mid-2021.
The remarks came just days after Arrow Energy confirmed it would soon start the first phase of its Surat Gas Project, 30km north of Roma in the Maranoa region.
The project involves developing an operation capable of producing 5000 peta joules of CSG for both export and domestic LNG sales. QMEB can reveal the deal is worth $10 billion and is estimated to create up to 1000 jobs throughout its 35-year lifespan.
Promised job openings will include:
- civil constructions
- telecommunication infrastructure
- facility construction and upgrade
- operations and maintenance activities.
No head contractor has been appointed yet.
“Arrow is currently compiling the full list of contracting and supply requirements,” an Arrow spokesperson told QMEB. “We anticipate that in about six months we will be able to hold contractor information sessions to communicate upcoming opportunities.”
Joint venture partners Royal Dutch Shell and Chinese state-owned PetroChina will help oversee construction of the operation. PetroChina is listed on the Federal Attorney General’s Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Register as a foreign entity that partakes in “general political lobbying” activities.
Since 2017 PetroChina subsidiary ERA Energy Services has managed core warehouse facilities for Arrow in both Dalby for Surat Basin operations and Moranbah for Bowen Basin operations according to its website.
Arrow is jointly owned by the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and Royal Dutch Shell since the year 2010. CNPC subsidiary Sirius Well Manufacturing Services Australia describes Arrow as one of its “main clients” in Queensland CSG development projects on its website.
Arrow refused to provide supplier details or a list but maintained local workers would still be hired, even if the successful contractor was foreign-owned.
“Each winning contractor will be contractually obliged to submit a final, Arrow-approved local content plan,” the spokesperson said. “Performance against their local content plan will be monitored, evaluated and used in the assessment of contract performance.”
Construction is expected to start shortly with first production expected as early as 2022.