South West exploration proposals do not include hydraulic fracturing

Exploration company confirms proposed plans for South West area.
Date: Monday, 26 October 2015

The Department of Mines and Petroleum confirmed this week that the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing would not be used in a potential petroleum exploration area located south and east of the City of Bunbury.

Bunbury Energy Pty Ltd, previously known as Unconventional Resources Pty Ltd, confirmed with the department that its proposed plans for the area were conventional petroleum exploration which would not include hydraulic fracturing.

The permit area, which is yet to be granted, includes 11 blocks extending across shires of Capel, Dardanup and Donnybrook-Balingup, as well as parts of the City of Bunbury and slightly overlapping the City of Busselton.

Petroleum Division Executive Director Jeff Haworth said the geology of the area did not support the hydraulic fracturing process and there was currently no indication of any good quality shales in the area.

“Previous attempts at Whicher Range highlighted the problem, which was further supported by the Western Australian Energy Alliance (WA:ERA) Report 112 – Whicher Range Tight Gas Sands Study 2012 report,” he said.

“The study, conducted by scientists from University of WA, Curtin University and CSIRO, identified that the target sands in this area were not suitable for the hydraulic fracturing process and, in fact, hydraulic fracturing would actually inhibit the extraction of any gas.”

No exploration activity can begin until the company has been granted an exploration permit and all relevant approvals have been provided.

Mr Haworth said the company was still progressing with its native title negotiations and is required to provide the department a detailed stakeholder engagement plan before the end of November 2015.
“Should the company receive permit approval, its two-year firm plan has proposed a 150 kilometre siesmic survey, which the company plans to conduct along roadsides and other accessible areas as they did not intend to access private land or sensitive areas,” Mr Haworth said.

“They would also need to seek the appropriate State and local government approvals to undertake those activities.”

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

South West geology is not suitable for hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas.