Fracking viability rejected

Taelor PeluseyBusselton Dunsborough Times
Anti-fracking campaigners are concerned about damage to the region's aquifers and farming land.
Camera IconAnti-fracking campaigners are concerned about damage to the region's aquifers and farming land.

CalEnergy’s exploration permit at Whicher Range has been modified to reflect the long-awaited results of its first testing phase, but the company maintains it will not frack despite an academic report claiming the process would be the most effective.

Two weeks after the Department of Mines and Petroleum signed off on changes to the permit, CalEnergy managing director Peter Youngs told the Times yet more technical and economic evaluations were required to determine the potential for commercial production.

The company at the centre of a fierce anti-gasfield campaign announced this week the new work would focus on reservoir pressure monitoring and would not involve flaring or well gas-flow testing.

The company also said tests continued to show fracking was not viable.

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The announcement contrasts with an academic paper, presented to an oil conference in Saudi Arabia in April, which showed 58 new fracked wells over two stages was the most efficient and profitable way of extracting gas.

The paper has brought the concerns of anti-fracking activists to new heights, with Gasfield-Free Whicher Range campaigner Lisa Chatwin claiming all information to date showed fracking was still on the table.

In a statement, Lock the Gate South West co-ordinator Jane Hammond said it was concerning the most up-to-date information publicly available suggested the use of many wells and the need for fracking.

The paper also acknowledges the gasfield as unconventional, while CalEnergy maintains it is conventional.

Ms Chatwin described the inconsistency as a “very large red flag” and said she expected a production permit was just around the corner.

But Mr Youngs said the paper had no relevance to the project.

“We had no involvement in its preparation,” he said.

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