By ERWIN CHLANDA
The Norwegian oil company StatOil says agreements it has with the Central Land Council disprove claims by the Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC) that the firm has “no fracking social license in the NT”.
ALEC director Jimmy Cocking says fracking is already under way in the NT. In a release he names StatOil and attacks the NT Government for issuing the licenses.
He says: ‘We have real concerns about this situation where invasive gas wells are being established without these companies having secured a social licence for their operations.”
But StatOil spokesman Knut Rostad told the Alice Springs News Online: “Regarding social license: We are having a good and continuous dialogue with Central Land Council in Northern Territory and we honour the agreements reached with the council.
“StatOil has drilled five wells in the Northern Territory and we will test up to three of them using the fracking technology. The purpose is to do a limited test to see if we have any hydrocarbons flowing.”
Mr Rostad says results from the tests will be known by about the end of this year.
But Mr Cocking says: “The process of ‘fracking’ is used in the exploration stage for shale and tight gas, where tens of millions of litres of water mixed with sand and up to 200 tonnes of chemicals is forced under high pressure down wells, more than a kilometre deep to fracture rock and access gas.”
StatOil’s website says it “has from September 1, 2013, been the operator for four exploration permits (EP, 103, 104, 127, 128) in the South Georgina Basin (see map at top) in the Northern Territory through a joint venture project with PetroFrontier Corporation.
“This is an early entry at scale into over 14 million acres of an immature, but potentially highly prospective play that will be de-risked over the coming years.”
StatOil is the world’s 11th largest oil and gas company, 40 years old, operates in 36 countries and has 23,000 employees. The Norwegian government is the largest shareholder with 67% and the company is listed on the Oslo and New York stock exchanges.
The Council meeting on Monday from 6pm will be addressed by a deputation from the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association about fracking and environmental management in the Alice Springs region.
PHOTOS: Top – An on-shore facility of StatOil in Canada. Photo by Øyvind Hagen. Above left – Where StatOil operates.