A Federal court ruling says a grant to be paid to a company planning to explore for fracking on the Beetaloo Basin is invalid. The Environment Centre NT’s argued the Federal government had failed to make a number of required, reasonable inquiries into a range of matters before granting Empire Energy subsidiary Imperial Energy $21 million.

The court had ruled that one grant of $21 million contract was unreasonable because it occurred when legal activity was underway. A number of traditional owners across the basin have voiced their opposition to fracking activity for a number of years.

In a statement the Northern Territory Protect Country Alliance spokesperson Daniel Robins says “Territorians didn’t want to see public money wasted on fracking projects that will threaten groundwater and are opposed by Traditional Owners.”

Clearings for gas exploration in the Beetaloo Basin. courtesy (ABC News Jane Bardon)

From Northern Territory Protect Country Alliance webpage:

The gas industry has estimated the Beetaloo Basin, an enormous shale gas resource 400 kilometres south of Darwin, contains enough energy to power Australia for 200 years.

The Beetaloo Sub-Basin, around 500 kilometres south-east of Darwin NT, sits in the Sturt Plateau region, between Mataranka to the north, Elliott to the south and Borroloola to the east. Around 70 per cent of the Territory’s prospective shale gas resources are said to exist in the 28,000 square km Beetaloo Sub-basin area and this has seen keen interest from a range of gas companies. Exploration history dates back more than a decade, but in recent years, Origin Energy (among others) has had its sights set on the region.

Origin’s gas licences alone are said to hold gas reserves of around 6.6 trillion cubic feet, according to industry predictions. Though rich in shale gas, the basin takes in pastoral land and Indigenous communities.

Listen to Philippe Perez interview with Dan Robins here:

Resources Minister Keith Pitt says he also welcomed the announcement, saying the legal instrument under which the grant was given was deemed valid and that he will move ahead with the program