WA tightens fraccing laws

THE Western Australian government has released draft regulations that impact shale and tight gas exploration, with stronger water monitoring requirements and harsher penalties included.
WA tightens fraccing laws WA tightens fraccing laws WA tightens fraccing laws WA tightens fraccing laws WA tightens fraccing laws


Blair Price

Developed due to rising public interest in unconventional plays and in fraccing, the Department of Mines and Petroleum said the regulations adopted a “whole-of-life” approach to well construction and management to further strengthen obligations on companies to ensure wells were fit for purpose.

“These strengthened requirements, together with new water monitoring requirements and the state’s existing petroleum environment and safety regulations, will ensure the state’s water resources are protected from oil and gas activities,” DMP executive director Jeff Haworth said.

“Importantly, petroleum companies which breach the regulations will face harsher penalties.”

DMP also separately released a 12-page overview to provide a better understanding of the emerging shale and tight gas sector.

“The overview addresses frequently asked community questions about the process of hydraulic fracturing, including water use and protection,” DMP acting director general Tim Griffin said.

“The state’s legislative framework for the industry is also featured in the overview to provide an understanding of the robust, multi-agency assessment process in place for shale and tight gas proposals.

“These regulations include referral to the Environmental Protection Authority when a shale or tight gas proposal is within two kilometres of a town site or 500 metres of an environmentally sensitive area or water resource.”

The public comment period to the 118-page draft regulations, titled Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Resources (Resource Management and Administration) Regulations 2014, closes on May 30.

Buru Energy aims to start a fraccing campaign in four Canning Basin wells starting in April.

According to the ABC, the EPA has said the proposal is small scale and unlikely to significantly affect the environment.