By ERWIN CHLANDA
A claim today by Chief Minister Adam Giles that Labor’s onshore gas moratorium is “creating sovereign risk in the NT” appears to be in direct contradiction to the view of Ron Kelly, the Chief Executive of the NT Department of Mines and Energy.
Mr Giles (pictured), who does not elaborate on the “sovereign risk” claim in a statement he issued this morning, appears to suggest the NT Government may be faced with claims from oil and gas companies if fracking is stopped.
But Mr Kelly told the Alice Springs News Online in August last year that the Minister of Mines is empowered to refuse the renewal of a licence, without risk of litigation, even if all conditions of the permit have been met.
The News report, which was published after its draft had been fact-checked with Mr Kelly, said: “Sovereign risk” can also play a role, defined as “the probability that the government of a country (or an agency backed by the government) will refuse to comply with the terms of a loan agreement during economically difficult or politically volatile times”.
Mr Giles said in his release: “Pangaea Resources has cited Labor’s moratorium as the reason it’s scaling back NT operations, costing Territorians their jobs.”
An aide to Mr Giles says the Chief Minister relied on a report in the Murdoch NT News for this information.
Mr Giles said: “A major oil and gas company has announced it intends to sack 140 workers in Central Australia because of the uncertainty created by Labor’s anti onshore oil and gas agenda.”
The Alice Springs News Online directed several several requests for information to a spokesman nominated by Pangaea but he did not provide any. We will update this story if information comes to hand.
The Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA), when asked for comment, said it doesn’t “comment on specific activities of individual companies, but clearly the uncertainty created by Labor’s moratorium policy will have a direct impact on the gas industry’s near term investment in the NT”.
Says Mr Giles: “Labor’s hypocrisy knows no bounds. In Government they opened the gate on 95 per cent of the Territory for onshore oil and gas exploration, including on Aboriginal communities, tourism areas and sites of ecological value.
“My Government has been winding back Labor’s open gate policy to ensure areas of significance and population will not be subject to onshore gas activities.
“In Government Labor approved 33 ‘well activities’ but now they say they don’t support gas. What cowardice and hypocrisy.
“The facts are there are 55 wells producing gas right now powering the Territory. Does Labor really want to turn the power off right now or are some wells okay? Which wells are okay? The ones Labor approved?
“Labor can’t even say how long they plan to close the industry for. Answer that one Michael [Gunner, Opposition Leader].
“Labor’s moratorium is purely poll driven. It’s a cynical way of chasing votes at the expense of the Territory’s future.”
The Alice Springs News Online reported on Labor’s fracking policy earlier this month in a story headed “Labor on fracking, a part answer”.
Giles on fracking: Sovereign risk a red herring?
By ERWIN CHLANDA