Roadmap sets right direction

By STEDMAN ELLIS

South Australia’s new blueprint for developing shale gas and tight gas provides a sound foundation for safe exploration and production of these vast resources and for building public confidence.

The state’s Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy Tom Koutsantonis was enthusiastic about the industry’s potential when he released the Roadmap for Unconventional Gas Projects in South Australia at the University of Adelaide’s Australian School of Petroleum on Wednesday 12 December.

“South Australia’s unconventional gas sector can deliver billions of dollars of job creating investment and a new source of safe, secure and competitively priced energy for households and businesses both here and overseas,” Mr Koutsantonis said.

“Now more than ever, it’s critical our State is ready to compete for capital to extract these resources by providing best-practice investment and land access frameworks.”

Attending the launch function it was clear to see the leadership and hard work of the South Australian Government and the industry participants in South Australia’s onshore gas industry in developing this blueprint.

South Australia is at the forefront of shale and tight gas developments and is poised to benefit enormously if these resources can be unlocked for production alongside its existing conventional gas resources.

The Roadmap is an exemplary effort to build a framework for the operational and regulatory approaches the development of an unconventional gas industry in an inclusive and comprehensive manner.

It will help attract investment in exploration and evaluation of the State’s resources by providing certainty for operators while providing other stakeholders the confidence that best practices are being adopted, ensuring resources are developed safely and responsibly.

The 125 recommendations in the Roadmap cover the full life-cycle of shale and tight gas projects – from exploration to production and possible liquefied natural gas exports, as well as related supply chains and infrastructure.

Once implemented, the roadmap will establish a framework for decades of:

  • safe, secure and competitively priced gas supplies for domestic and international markets
  • royalties from the sale of petroleum
  • employment from environmentally sustainable exploration, development, production, processing and transport of competitive gas supplies
  • growth opportunities for upstream petroleum companies operating in South Australia.

This is an important step forward for South Australia’s onshore gas industry, which has a long history and well established infrastructure that can be leveraged to commercialise shale and tight gas resources.

South Australia already has a commercial shale gas well – Santos’ Moomba-191 – and could lead the way in the industry’s development in Australia. The roadmap is an important way for South Australia to build on the advantages it has in terms of identified unconventional gas resources, established infrastructure, closeness to eastern states markets and strong regulation.

APPEA and its members have played a significant role over the past two years in developing the Roadmap and we are confident that this document provides a strong foundation for building public confidence.

APPEA commends Department for Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy (DMITRE) for the effectiveness of this process.

There is a clear expectation for the industry and the regulators to provide timely information and meaningful consultation with communities. The Roadmap has been a key mechanism to facilitate this. Given the extreme opinions that sometimes characterise debate about onshore gas it will also provide the basis for an ongoing fact-based discussion about environmental impacts.

APPEA looks forward to continuing to work with DMITRE on implementing the Roadmap’s recommendations.

To see a full copy of the Roadmap for Unconventional Gas Projects in South Australia see the DMITRE website.

Stedman Ellis is APPEA’s Chief Operating Officer – Western Region.