Gas is coming, for better or worse


Hal Duell Vision
Gas rules. Just look around the world. Fracked gas has made the US self-sufficient in energy for the first time since she outgrew her oil wells. Russia is financially solvent largely because she supplies the energy (gas) to Europe to run their industries and heat their homes. China is buying into Russian gas as fast as she can, already having reportedly secured all the output from Turkmenistan and most of Iran’s.
And now the NT. It is true that an export market worth billions is waiting for any company with the push and shrewdness to grasp this nettle. While I do have grave concerns about fracking, neither my nor the Bilbies’ views will carry this argument. The economic rewards being dangled in front of the governments in Darwin and Canberra are simply too great.
I suspect that our Governments have already been swayed. Consider the railway overpass slated for construction south of town. In a recent poll conducted by Alice Springs News Online, a late comment suggested that it was a push from the mining sector asking (demanding?) that this safety measure be built that carried the day. While I do not know if that is true or not, it makes sense. I mean, why else build it now?
Next comes swaying public opinion. This may prove to be more difficult than swaying money-strapped governments. If the mining companies cannot come up with an argument better than a similarity in the chemicals they use to those found in toothpaste and ice cream, there is public trouble ahead. While not being a chemist, it is my understanding that a tiny difference, let alone a vague similarity, in chemical composition can change a compound from benign to pure poison.
On the gas companies’ side, they do have success in the Cooper Basin to point to. And all that potential wealth. They have already promised the Central Land Council enough to get them on-side.
Will they pay for new roads? I didn’t hear they were stumping up for the overpass.
But Alice’s future may well lie in gas mining. That this industry may use most of our water and contaminate what’s left – well, prove it, is what they’ll say. But by the time it’s proven, if it is, it will be too late to do anything about it.
Welcome to our future. Let’s hope we have one.


  1. Gas exploration is here. As was mining exploration in 2009. There is a long way to go from exploration to extraction. As we have seen with the 90% or thereabouts fall in mining exploration activity in the NT.
    The difference is the drilling depths through aquifers and fracking during exploration. The gas companies visiting this week were very cautious with their optimism.
    Gas will only be here on a big scale if it is economic to get it to market. Politicians will always talk things up as though they made it happen.
    The gas companies will stay around if it is worth their while. It is early days … but the fracking risk posed by the industry is now. Our aquifers are for life and not for shale.

  2. If fracking comes to town, it would be a good time to review a recreational and water dam for The Alice.
    Hopefully, no-one in government will approve fracking where there is a risk to water aquifers, however, a dam will be a good back-up plan and isn’t it about time we did what Mount Isa and many other regional communities in outback regions have done for years?

  3. The cost of drilling just one well is $14m.
    Very little oil and gas has been found so far in Central Australia despite many millions spent on exploration.
    Take Central Petroleum with its Surprise oil strike. More than $20 million spent and it happened to be a rare success, initially flowing 450 barrels a day. That has quickly declined to less than 200 barrels a day due to “tight sands” and the company has never been able to afford to drill another well.
    There are many alternative exploration areas for companies like Santos and Drillsearch, some with much better seismic results than here.
    If we make things too difficult for mining companies they will leave and explore elsewhere and we will come to regret their departure.


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