Unconventional unlikely at South West site

DMP petroleum division executive director Jeff Haworth.

DMP petroleum division executive director Jeff Haworth.

August 11, 2015

By Emma Brown

CHINESE-owned company Unconventional Resources is the preferred applicant for a shale gas and oil exploration permit in WA’s South West.

Despite the company’s name Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Marmion was assured that Unconventional Resources were unlikely to frack the area.

“These days unconventional gas in Western Australia is down at the three-kilometre mark so most companies would probably hope to find conventional gas before that,” Mr Marmion told ABC News.

Unconventional Resources is now required to secure a native title agreement within the area which incorporates the shires of Capel, Dardanup, Donnybrook, Balingup, and parts of the City of Bunbury and the City of Busselton.

Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) petroleum division executive director Jeff Haworth said a petroleum exploration title would not be granted until the company successfully negotiated a native title agreement and other administrative requirements – a process which could take from six months to several years.

Even after Unconventional Resources had a title granted it would only be given the right to apply to undertake exploration activity.

Mr Haworth said that the State government recognised the importance of ensuring the State’s approvals and regulatory standards fitted with community values and expectations to protect it.

“This area had 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.”

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