Thursday, May 30, 2024

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HomeIssue 5Fracking probe head rejects suggestion advisors may be compromised

Fracking probe head rejects suggestion advisors may be compromised

p2410 Rachel Pepper SMp22100-Naomi-HoganBy ERWIN CHLANDA
A group opposed to fracking has suggested a company appointed to advise the NT Government’s hydraulic fracturing inquiry may be compromised because it has clients in the oil and gas sector, but Justice Rachel Pepper (at right), who heads up the enquiry, is rejecting that.
Naomi Hogan (above left), of Lock the Gate, says ACIL Allen Consulting, which was appointed to provide advice on economic issues, has “a long list of mining and gas companies for clients, including Jemena, a key advocate of fracking in the Territory.
“ACIL is no innocent economic bystander – they have a history of aggressive economic claims to push the gas fracking industry.”
But Justice Pepper says the tender process was a public one: “From those that submitted a tender, ACIL was awarded the economic tender, following a rigorous assessment process. Tenders were assessed against current Northern Territory Government procurement processes, which included oversight by an independent probity advisory.”
Justice Pepper says she was a member of the tender assessment panel: “Assessment was made using criteria of price, local content, capacity, timeliness, scope specific as well as past performance, all of which were outlined in the public tender document that was released.”
But Ms Hogan says most recently, fracking giant Santos used ACIL “to push through the economic rationale for their 850 well coal seam gas project in NSW.
“An assessment of their modelling reveals that ACIL ignored financial and environmental costs to exaggerate the economic value of their client’s project.
“Gas company AGL commissioned ACIL to write a 2014 report pushing for increased coal seam gas development across NSW,” says Ms Hogan.
She also quotes Rod Campbell, Research Director of the Australia Institute, as saying “ACIL has a track record of overstating expected tax revenues of their client’s projects.
“In 2015 ACIL estimated Chevron’s gas projects would generate tax revenues of $355b. Chevron now says it will pay between $60 and $140b, but will not begin paying for decades.
“If Territorians are going to have any faith in this economic analysis then the fracking inquiry must ensure there is a transparent process around this report. There must be a multi-stakeholder panel that oversees the economic modelling assumptions that ACIL use.
“Without this oversight the fox is guarding the henhouse of the NT’s gas and water resources.”
Justice Pepper says ACIL “demonstrated significant experience and expertise in undertaking complex economic modelling projects at the State / Territory level and have demonstrated substantial experience in applying leading practice methodology to projects that relate to the development of onshore petroleum resources.
“In accordance with the tender document, the inquiry must approve the assumptions made by ACIL before they commence any economic modelling.
“The inquiry will also have an ongoing oversight role of ACIL’s work. This oversight ensures ACIL are accountable to the independent inquiry throughout its process, from the development of assumptions, to delivery of the final economic assessment report.
“The ACIL economic assessment report will be published in full upon its completion,” says Justice Pepper.


  1. This seems to be one of those occasions where it’s not enough to be right but that you have to be seen to be right. The fracking enquiry is putting its credibility on the line.

  2. Am I reading this right in that a decision on fracking boils down to cost?
    How on earth can the public have faith in this whole thing when the argument of cost comes into it?
    Fracking is used solely because the mega rich multinational companies who do not give a dam about our country have politicians doing the suck up to them and no doubt there is a lot of palms greased in the process.
    If any politician cared one iota about Australia they would be against fracking.

  3. The standard tender assessment weighting of cost, local development etc. offers very little opportunity to consider conflict of interest; real or perceived.
    Would it not be in a company’s interest, who seeks to gain through future fracking related works to in fact buy the opportunity to help steer the direction and the tone of the “independent” study?

  4. “Justice Pepper says she was a member of the tender assessment panel: Assessment was made using criteria of price, local content, capacity, timeliness, scope specific as well as past performance, all of which were outlined in the public tender document that was released.”
    What about concern for the environment, consideration of global warming, potential harm to the water etc?
    And without casting any aspersions at all, who is Justice Pepper, and what qualifications does she bring to the enquiry?

  5. In my opinion the NT Government’s Independent Enquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing has been compromised and is no longer independent.
    It is also my opinion that the findings of the enquiry can no longer be relied upon by the community as and independent report without prejudice or biased.
    The administrator will be informed of my opinion, I strongly advise others to write to the Administrator of the Northern Territory and express their concerns on the failure of this government to obtain independent advice in an independent enquiry which affects every Territorian.
    This Government has failed to deliver on its election promise and is acting outside the interests of its constituents. It is not fit to govern.

  6. You could have almost written the script for the anti-fracking side when it came to this enquiry. When the evidence and science is backing this method of gas extraction start screaming “conflict of interest” or “bias” or “multinational conspiracy” because of some obscure link.
    I remember going to the enviro fair held at the Botanic Gardens a couple of years ago and went to the anti-fracking grannies stall to get a cup of tea … guess what they were boiling the water with. Too funny!
    I’m starting to believe that the anti-fracking groups are just another anti everything brigade.

  7. For more context to Lock the Gate Alliance’s criticism of ACIL Allen’s appointment you can read the full letter to the Fracking Inquiry panel here:
    Included are suggestions for strong improvements on transparency and expert oversight of the modelling assumptions ACIL Allen will use, given its atrocious track record of over-inflating economic revenue from the petroleum industry to justify projects that consistently fail to deliver – on jobs, royalties and other taxes paid back to the community.
    Given their history elsewhere we can no doubt expect more of the same baseless economic promises for the NT Government to swallow. ACIL Allen are known as the good ole boys in the economic consultancy industry, and with fracking industry hopefuls Jemena and Santos two of its biggest clients there is little doubt their analysis will favour the industry they work for.
    Critically, it is far from clear that ACIL Allen will be required to consider other stakeholders such as landholders, and the pastoral and tourism sectors to ensure their interests, both purely economic and often un-costed “externalities” such as water availability and cultural use, are factored in fairly to assessment model assumptions.
    If you’re concerned about this appointment you can also use the link above to write directly to the Fracking Inquiry panel and call for a credible economic analysis, and one that considers the costs to communities, other industries and the environment that deserve to be front and centre.

  8. God just like Ambulance Chasers – “expert” doctors employed by both sides to say how much compensation the victims should receive. He who has the most money wins.
    And we can see who is paying the most for “expert” opinion here. We know who has the most money and it aint ordinary and concerned Territorians.
    Justice Pepper is a Judge – she should be able to see through this rouse by now as she would have dealt with hundreds of similar cases of “experts” put up by those with the most money wining the day.
    As for public tenders – most of the oil frack tenders were already submitted by the time the actual public got to know about it and tender less than a week before closing of tender. This inquiry is starting to look less impartial by the day.


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