Inbox jammed: Over 700 submissions on gas fracking pipeline

Frack Free NT, Media Release, 25 September 2015

Inbox jammed with concerns: Over 700 submissions on gas fracking pipeline

Hundreds of people from across the NT and Australia have flooded the inbox of the Northern Territory’s EPA. They are calling on the full impacts of shale gas fracking to be included in the environmental assessments for the proposed NT Link Gas Pipeline.

The NT EPA is currently assessing feedback on what will need to be included in the Environmental Impact Statement for pipeline building hopefuls APA Group.

“Chief Minister Giles is talking up this pipeline as a way of opening up the Northern Territory for shale gas fracking. But he is not being upfront with local communities on what the impacts will be,” said Naomi Hogan of the Frack Free Northern Territory Alliance.

“Hundreds of people have now formally asked the Government to provide more information about where fracking will occur before this pipeline process is pushed ahead.

“Where are they going to get the gas for the pipeline? Where are they going to frack?

“Residents and bore water users want to know if new shale gas fracking is going to be allowed to roll over communities and through water aquifers.

“People of the Northern Territory want a say on whether this new gas pipeline and new fracking gasfields will be built.

“We want to know if building a gas pipeline to the Eastern Gas markets and export terminals will drive up our local energy bills like it did on the East Coast,” she said.

Email submissions included questions like: What are the water resource requirements of the shale gas wells that will be required to supply gas to the pipeline?

And recommendations like: Communities that are likely to be on the front line of new shale gas developments should be included in the formal consultations surrounding the pipeline.

Contact: Naomi Hogan, Frack Free NT, 0401 650 411

 

 

The draft submission, which has over 700 names, says:

Thank you for the opportunity to provide a written submission into the NT Link Project, draft terms of reference.

I am concerned that the Terms of Reference does not specifically include a requirement for APA group to outline the impacts of the shale gas fracking that will be required to feed the pipeline.

The pipeline cannot be assessed for environmental and other impacts in isolation. The Northern Territory Government and the proponents have said the pipeline requires an increased pace of shale gas development to make the project viable.

Please consider the below points for strengthening the draft Terms of Reference for an EIS.

The EIS for the pipeline must include the impacts of the new NT shale gas industry the pipeline is designed to facilitate.

APA’s own executive summary for the pipeline clearly states, “The NT Link will encourage gas exploration and production of known gas reserves in the NT.”

NT Deputy Chief minister Mr Westra Van Holthe has said to the Sydney Morning Herald that further [gas] exploration would be partly driven by the proposed gas pipeline that would link the NT with the rest of the eastern states’ gas grid.

A recent APPEA commissioned report outlined 56 – 84 petajoules of fracked gas could be sent the East Coast every year via the new pipeline infrastructure.

The EIS for the pipeline should therefore require the proponent to stipulate the associated impacts of opening up new onshore gasfields to pipe 56-84pj of gas every year.

 

WATER RISKS

As the pipeline is designed to facilitate onshore shale gas production and transport, the water impacts of the related shale gas industry should be considered.

Fracking is an extremely water-intensive practice. The Australian gas industry provides a figure of 11 million litres per shale gas frack, while a range of other sources suggest that water use is often much higher. According to one UN report, a single frack operation on a shale gas well will use between 11 and 34 million litres of water, roughly 360 – 1100 truckloads.

Wells are often fracked on multiple occasions, sometimes up to ten times, thereby multiplying the water use.

The NT Department of Mines and Energy has confirmed there are currently no legal waste disposal facilities for shale fracking waste product in the NT, and no regulations governing its safe remediation/disposal. This must be dealt with before major gas infrastructure projects commence.

Noting this, please include in the pipeline TOR:

How many gas wells will be required to drilled and fracked across the NT meet the pipeline’s capacity?

What are the water resource requirements of the shale gas wells that will be required to supply gas to the pipeline?

In what water catchments and through what aquifers would the gas drilling and fracking occur to supply the pipeline?

What will happen to the frac fluid flow-back water and wastewater from fracking operations?

What risks does shale gas fracking have on water resources in the Northern Territory?

 

FINANCIAL RISKS

The Terms of Reference are currently not specific enough to draw out the key financial risks of the project.

The ACCC’s Rod Simms said the Australian gas industry, “needs to source lower cost gas to compete in a potentially over-supplied international market.”

Financial analysts have described the QLD LNG terminals as “white elephants” and “global marginal cost producers”. (See http://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2015/02/lng-white-elephants-stealing-eastern-gas/ and http://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2015/09/accc-misses-the-point-on-gas-shock/)

The TOR should require the following questions to be answered:

What are the likely production costs of shale gas fracking in the NT?

What are the costs of transporting gas through the pipeline?

Will fracked gas from the NT be cost competitive compared to other gas supply options for international buyers? Are there risks that the gas will be too expensive to extract?

 

SOCIAL RISKS

Pipeline consultation must include information that makes it clear that the pipeline will facilitate fracked gasfields.

Communities that are likely to be on the front line of new shale gas developments should be included in the formal consultations surrounding the pipeline.

The EIS should include detailed plans and specific communication materials that will be used to explain the pipeline and associated new shale gas fracking activities.

The materials must be relevant to a wide range of culturally diverse stakeholders, in locally appropriate languages and formats to ensure all stakeholders understand the full impacts of the pipeline and the shale gas industry it is designed to facilitate.

Formal discussion is also required around the social risks of linking NT gas to international gas prices, further driving up domestic energy prices and driving lower income households across the NT further into energy poverty.

 

Thank you for considering these points. I look forward to seeing a strengthened Terms of Reference for this NT Link Project EIS.