Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Water Corp wants fracking ban - Yahoo!7

Water Corp wants fracking ban - Yahoo!7

One Well = hundreds of fracks, over kilometres underground

WA's monopoly water provider has called for the gas drilling technique known as fracking to be banned in areas where it affects drinking water sources, saying contamination risks are unacceptable. The Water Corporation told an Upper House inquiry into the "implications" of fracking in WA that it opposed the practice in drinking water areas. The State-owned utility unsuccessfully asked for its comments to be kept confidential. Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, involves drilling wells vertically and often horizontally thousands of metres before using water, sand and chemicals to release "unconventional" gas resources such as tight gas and shale gas. The technique has spawned huge industries, especially in the US and increasingly in the Eastern States, and the Barnett Government is hopeful it holds the key to unlocking trillions of cubic feet of onshore gas.
However, Water Corporation said the chemicals used in fracking and the risks of mistakes meant it should be "excluded" from areas that contained drinking water sources. It was particularly worried about the risks to groundwater sources in regional areas where there were no potable water alternatives - except expensive and impractical options.
The corporation said such areas represented less than one per cent of WA's landmass and they should be quarantined from fracking and have a 1.5km buffer to further reduce the risk. "Water Corporation does not endorse any decision to increase public health risks in drinking water source areas as it runs counter with the fundamental principles of drinking water management," it said.
"Such a decision will come at a huge social, financial and ecological cost to the community."
Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association spokesman Stedman Ellis said the industry recognised the importance of drinking water sources but fracking was not necessarily incompatible with them. "There are measures within the existing regulatory framework which ensure that sensitive water sources are protected," Mr Ellis said.


  1. Browse cost $80b-plus: Woodside
    The West Australian

    Peter Klinger The West Australian

    December 17, 2013, 10:17 pm

    Woodside Petroleum has confirmed for the first time that the cost of developing its Browse Basin gas fields through an LNG processing plant at James Price Point would have cost more than $80 billion.

    Six months after delivering a commerciality report on the James Price Point development option to the State Government on behalf of its consortium, project operator Woodside has used an opinion piece in today's The West Australian to reveal for the first time the likely capital cost.

    The actual figure, which was included in the top-secret commerciality report, has remained a well-guarded secret although WestBusiness has previously flagged a likely budget around $80 billion.

    Woodside corporate affairs vice president Roger Martin used his opinion piece, in response to calls by the Alcoa-backed DomGas Alliance for a land-based development of the Browse gas, to argue that the Woodside consortium "were as disappointed as anyone to realise it (a land-based development) wouldn't work".

    "We invested about 4.5 million man hours and had hundreds of Woodsiders who dedicated years trying to come up with a way to make this land-based development commercially viable," Martin writes.

    "When the final number came in at more than $80 billion, it was obvious these efforts were in vain."

    Woodside and its Browse consortium partners, which include Royal Dutch Shell and BP, are instead pursuing a floating LNG development of the three Browse Basin gas fields.

    They face strong and vocal opposition from Premier Colin Barnett, who wants the benefit of a land-based construction boom, and the DomGas Alliance, which wants more gas to flow into the domestic market to depress the fuel's price.

    Woodside is yet to spell out how much an FLNG development would cost, but industry insiders suggest it is likely to be no more than $40 billion.

    Chevron's Gorgon development on Barrow Island, which with a proposed production capacity of 15.6 million tonnes of LNG a year is bigger than the aborted 12mtpa proposal for James Price Point, is set to cost at least $US54 billion ($60 billion).

    1. Woodside says processing at James Price Point would have cost $80bn

      Andrew Burrell |
      The Australian |
      December 18, 2013 1:39PM

      "............In a sign that Woodside is becoming increasingly frustrated with claims it should have built an onshore gas plant rather than pursue a controversial floating LNG plan at the cost of thousands of construction jobs, the Perth-based producer confirmed today that James Price Point was uneconomic and pursuing it could have put the company at risk of collapse.........."

      ".............Mr Martin said Woodside's analysis showed that its share of building the project would have been $25bn - almost as much as the market value of the entire company.

      "Effectively, we would have spent almost the entire value of our company on an uneconomic project," he wrote.

      "With just a modest cost overrun we could have put Woodside itself at risk, an organisation which has taken almost 60 years to create and which has played a critical role in the development of Australia's oil and gas industry."


  2. In the pipeline: A big year ahead for INPEX

    Japanese company INPEX is preparing to lay down nearly 900 kilometres of pipeline, so it can export gas from the Browse Basin off the Western Australian coast, to Darwin in the Northern Territory.

    It's a major part of the $US34 billion Ichthys LNG Project, and as you would imagine, it involves a lot of pipe.

    Manager of project construction Chris Wheeldon says it's taken about 690,000 tonnes of steel to manufacture the pipe.

    "It's quite large," he says with a smile.

    "It'll be the longest subsea pipeline in the southern hemisphere and the fifth longest in the world,

    "The pipe has taken around one and a half years to manufacture, it's concrete coated, 42 inches (1.067 metres) in diameter... so big enough to stand in if you're a small child."

    Mr Wheeldon say it'll take around two years to lay pipe along the 889 kilometre route, with work to begin next year.

    "The pipe is actually completed and is stockpiled in storage yards in both Malaysia and Indonesia," he said.

    Ichthys Pipeline Facts:
    It will be the longest subsea pipeline in the southern hemisphere.
    It will be the fifth longest subsea pipeline in the world.
    More than 600 personnel will be required on the deep water pipelay barge to lay it out.
    It's 1.2 million tonnes of concrete coated pipeline (690,000 tonnes of steel).
    The Ichthys Project is expected to produce 8.4 million tonnes of LNG and 1.6 million tonnes of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) per year, along with approximately 100,000 barrels of condensate per day at peak.

    "It'll stay there until the second quarter (of 2014) when we start installing the pipe."

    More than 600 people will be onboard the "deep-water barge" as the pipe is being laid along the ocean floor.

    Mr Wheeldon says the process will be incredible to watch.

    "The deep-water barge will lay pipe into waters of around 225 metres deep," he said.

    "(On the barge) they'll weld each individual pipe section, test it and lay it out, (and keep doing that) all the way through to the Browse Basin.

    "It happens all at sea, on the barge, it'll just keep on rolling, keep on rolling."

    As the pipeline approaches the shallow waters near Darwin, it'll be trenched and completely covered by a protective armour rock. That's a job which is creating plenty of work for quarries in the Top End.

  3. The Northern Territory's quarry boom

    Phil Thompson has worked at a quarry in the Top End of the Northern Territory since 1992, and he's never seen it so busy.

    The HB Quarry, located on the Arnhem Highway, has this year put on extra staff, spent millions on infrastructure and will increase its output by over 50 per cent.

    "Rock is the base source of everything and, because the Northern Territory is booming, there's huge demand for concrete, for roads, building blocks, you name it... you need rock," he said with a smile.

    The demand for rock is going so well, that rival quarries are now popping up across the region, with an extra two up and running in the last 18 months.

    Yet the industry is still struggling to meet the demand, which is being driven mostly by the construction of the $US34 billion Ichthys LNG project.

    Operated by Japanese company INPEX, the project is getting ready to build an 889-kilometre gas pipeline from the Browse Basin to Darwin.

    As the pipe approaches the shallow waters near Darwin, it will be completely buried.

    "Our business was going along nicely without INPEX," says Phil Thompson.

    "But now INPEX has brought in this extra work, and they need mega amounts of rock, infrastructure, transport, you name it. It's booming for everyone."

    The HB Quarry is supplying a variety of sized rocks (syenite to be precise) for the INPEX project.

    A filter rock (<150mm) will be spread onto the bottom of the trench made for the pipeline, and then an armour rock (240mm-700mm) will be used to bury the pipe 'to protect it from things such as anchors.'

    "It's amazing. They will just push this rock off a boat, in the water, and can land as much as they want, in the right place," says Mr Thompson.

    "So demand is huge. We're trying to ramp up... it's a good problem to have, isn't it?"

  4. Which was included in the top-secret commercialism report, has remained a well-guarded secret although West Business has previously flagged a likely budget?? Could we have put Woodside itself at risk, an organisation which has taken almost 60 years to create and which has played a critical role in the development.

    Komatsu Parts