Native Title process begins for South West petroleum permit area

Preferred applicant selected
Date: Wednesday, 15 July 2015

DMP has selected a preferred applicant for a petroleum exploration permit extending south and east of the City of Bunbury. 

The Native Title agreement process will begin for a petroleum application area south and east of the City of Bunbury following the Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) selecting a preferred applicant.

Unconventional Resources Pty Ltd will now be required to secure native title agreement within the area comprising 11 blocks which incorporates the shires of Capel, Dardanup and Donnybrook-Balingup, parts of the City of Bunbury and slightly overlaps an area in the City of Busselton.

DMP Petroleum Division Executive Director Jeff Haworth said the petroleum exploration title would not be granted until the company successfully negotiates a native title agreement and completes other administrative requirements, which could take from 6 months to several years.

He said that even after title was granted, it would only provide the title holder the right to apply to undertake exploration activity within the title area, which would also require a proposed work program submitted to the department.

Mr Haworth said the State Government recognised the diversity and value of Western Australia’s environment and the need to ensure the State’s approvals and regulatory standards fit with community values and expectations to protect it.

“This area has had petroleum titles over it from the 1970s to 2003, but there has been little or no exploration activity as a result,” he said.

“But if any application to undertake exploration activity was made, it would be strictly regulated under WA’s multi-agency approvals process.

“The State’s approvals process includes DMP and other government agencies, such as departments of Water, Environment, Parks and Wildlife, Health and EPA, which all consider environmental, health, water and safety regulatory requirements, and every activity is assessed on its own merit.”

As part of the approvals process, companies are legally required to provide an environment plan that assesses any potential impact on flora and fauna and groundwater.

Any application which is likely to have a significant impact on the environment must be referred to the Environmental Protection Authority for further assessment.

Mr Haworth said the introduction of new regulations for the petroleum and geothermal industries on July 1 made Western Australia one of the most stringent well integrity and resource management regimes in the nation.

“The regulations stipulate mandatory well and field management plans which include baseline water quality monitoring before drilling and continued monitoring during and after completion,” he said.

WA is the only jurisdiction in Australia requiring full public disclosure of chemicals with companies required to submit a list of all chemicals to be used in all well operations which is made publicly available on the DMP website.

Under law, petroleum companies must also secure a land access agreement from farmers and land owners to conduct activity on their land. This consent can include agreements concerning compensation.

Mr Haworth said Unconventional Resources Pty Ltd had been advised that it will need to undertake extensive stakeholder consultation early in the planning phase before seeking approvals for on-ground activities.

Further information about WA’s developing shale and tight industry is available from the DMP website.