Areas of Swan Valley a ‘no go zone’ for petroleum exploration
|Wednesday, 28 September 2016
Petroleum companies seeking approval to undertake exploration activity in some parts of the Swan Valley will be faced with strict conditions that make specified areas a ‘no go zone’ for petroleum exploration.
Defined under the Swan Valley Planning Act 1995 in July last year, the direction prevents access by current permit holders, Southern Sky Energy, to undertake petroleum exploration activity within some areas of its exploration permit 494, located in the Shire of Swan.
Department of Mine and Petroleum Executive Director Petroleum Division Jeff Haworth said his message of reassurance followed recent increased community concerns about potential exploration activity in the area.
“No applications for petroleum exploration have been made yet, but this direction is in place to provide certainty for the community that this significant primary produce and tourist area is protected from on ground activity.
“It also provides clarity for the company that this area will not be considered for exploration so it can focus its activity in other more suitable areas.”
Southern Sky Energy’s permit area comprises of 35 blocks extending over the shires of Coorow, Chittering, Dandaragan, Gingin, Moora, Swan, Toodyay and Victoria Plains.
The Swan Valley direction is the third time the State Government has taken steps to exclude an area from petroleum exploration activity.
In December 2014, at the request of the permit holder, DMP amended a mid-west exploration permit to exclude an area which extended over sections of the Pinnacles.
Similarly in 2011, Buru Energy requested that areas of the newly formed Roebuck Bay marine reserve be excluded for exploration.
Mr Haworth said the proposed works program for exploration permit 494 did not include hydraulic fracturing.
“Seismic surveys were proposed along with stratigraphic drilling in the fourth year of its proposed work program, which will help identify the geology of the title area.
“All future applications for activity within the remaining title area will be assessed on a site-by-site, project-by-project basis and will be subject to multi-agency approvals that will consider environmental, health and safety regulations,” he said.
“DMP recognises the diversity and value of Western Australia’s environment and places great importance on the need to protect it, while the State’s regulatory framework ensures industry adopts high standards and practices that reflect community values and expectations to protect community health and the environment.
“Any future activity proposed by this company will be strictly regulated in the same way the State’s petroleum sector has been for more than 40 years.”
Mr Haworth said any proposed activity near other sensitive areas, such as adjacent to the national park areas, near towns or drinking water protection areas, would still be considered as part of the multi-agency approvals process and may also be referred to the EPA for independent advice.