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Scientific inquiry into hydraulic fracturing in the Northern Territory



Scientific inquiry into hydraulic fracturing in the Northern Territory

Other title

Scientific inquiry into hydraulic fracturing of unconventional reservoirs in the Northern Territory; Interim report into hydraulic fracturing; Final Report: Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing; Final Report Appendices: Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing; Draft Final Report : Scientific inquiry into hydraulic fracturing; Draft Final Report Appendices : Scientific inquiry into hydraulic fracturing; Summary of Draft Final Report : Scientific inquiry into hydraulic fracturing; Background and issues paper; Fracking implementation plan; Fracking implementation plan Parts 2 - Recommendations


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The report sets out the work undertaken by the Inquiry to date in assessing the impacts and risks associated with any potential onshore unconventional shale gas development in the Northern Territory. The report explains the method by which the Inquiry proposes to gather and then assess the evidence relevant to the issues that have been identified and discussed with the public. Where appropriate, the Interim Report makes some preliminary assessments about the likelihood of some of those risks eventuating as well as the methods to mitigate the risks. Finally, the report de4scribes the future work of the Inquiry that will be undertaken prior to the release of its draft Final Report by the end of the year.; Made available via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT).


The Inquiry is Chaired by Justice Rachel Pepper. The panel comprises 10 eminent scientists across a range of disciplines. Includes bibliographical references : pages 161-170. Publication spans 2017-2018; Made available via the Publications (Legal Deposit) Act 2004 (NT).

Table of contents

Executive summary -- Purpose of the Inquiry -- Work of the Inquiry to date -- Evidence and risk assessment methodology -- Summary of discussions at community forums and the revised list of issues -- Shale gas development and management -- Shale gas in Australia and the Northern Territory -- Water -- Land -- Greenhouse gas emissions -- Public health -- Aboriginal people and their culture -- Social impacts -- Economic impacts -- Regulatory reform -- Future work of the Inquiry -- Appendices 1-14




Gas wells -- Hydraulic fracturing; Coalbed methane -- Environmental aspects -- Northern Territory; Coalbed methane -- Economic aspects -- Northern Territory; Shale gas

Publisher name

Hydraulic Fracturing Inquiry; Northern Territory Government

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10 volumes : colour illustrations, colour maps ; 30 cm.

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https://hdl.handle.net/10070/444277; https://hdl.handle.net/10070/444275; https://hdl.handle.net/10070/444278; https://hdl.handle.net/10070/444280; https://hdl.handle.net/10070/444284; https://hdl.handle.net/10070/444287; https://hdl.handle.net/10070/444289; https://hdl.handle.net/10070/444290; https://hdl.handle.net/10070/444291

Page content

SUMMARY OF THE DRAFT FINAL REPORT - SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY INTO HYDRAULIC FRACTURING IN THE NORTHERN TERRITORY 5 In the United States of America (US), the shale gale gas revolution turned the US from an energy importer into an energy exporter. It transformed the energy market in North America and significantly affected world trade in gas and oil. But with this change came cost. In some jurisdictions the industry developed in a virtual legislative lacuna, with poor regulatory governance resulting in even poorer environmental outcomes. The term fracking, whether for coal seam, tight or shale gas, has therefore become synonymous with water contamination, water depletion, land degradation, air pollution and chronic health problems. It is no doubt because of these issues, and the understandable public anxiety accompanying them, that fracking has been legislatively prohibited in Victoria and is the subject of a moratorium in Tasmania, New South Wales and Western Australia. Overseas it has been banned in countries such as France, Germany and Scotland, in two provinces in Canada (New Brunswick and Nova Scotia) and in several states in the US (Vermont, New York and Maryland, for example). The development and regulation of any onshore unconventional gas industry is an equally contentious matter in the Northern Territory (NT). The last three Territory governments have commissioned reviews and inquiries into the onshore unconventional petroleum industry in an attempt to address and alleviate community concerns in this regard. In 2012, the former Labor Government commissioned Dr Tina Hunter from the Faculty of Law at Bond University to report on the capacity of the NTs legal framework to regulate the development of shale gas in the Northern Territory (2012 Hunter Report). A key recommendation from the 2011 Hunter Report was that Government should prioritise the development and implementation of environmental regulations under the Petroleum Act 1984 (NT). In March 2014, the former Country Liberal Party (CLP) Government appointed Dr Allan Hawke AC as the Commissioner of an inquiry under the Inquiries Act 1945 (NT) into hydraulic fracturing. Dr Hawke provided his report to the Government in November 2014 (2014 Hawke Report). One of the recommendations of the 2014 Hawke Report was that the Government conduct a review of the environmental assessment and approval processes in the NT. Accordingly, the CLP Government re-engaged Dr Hawke to conduct this work. Dr Hawkes second report (2015 Hawke Report) was released in late 2015. The 2015 Hawke Report did not relate directly to hydraulic fracturing, rather it provided the Government with guidance on how activities with environmental impacts, such as hydraulic fracturing, might be effectively regulated. Following the 2012 Hunter Report and the 2014 and 2015 Hawke Reports, the CLP Government enacted the Petroleum (Environment) Regulations 2016 (NT) (Petroleum Environment Regulations). The Petroleum Environment Regulations implemented many of the recommendations made in the earlier reports. In early 2016, the CLP Government commissioned Dr Tina Hunter to conduct an independent assessment of the draft Petroleum Environment Regulations (2016 Hunter Report). Although Dr Hunter described the Petroleum Environment Regulations as a quantum leap from the Northern Territory regulations of old, she went on to note that further reforms to the regulatory framework were required in order to increase industry certainty, the accountability of the regulator, and the transparency of decision making. On 14 September 2016, the Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, the Hon Michael Gunner MLA, announced a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing of onshore unconventional shale reservoirs in the NT. The Chief Minister also announced that he would appoint an independent scientific panel to inquire into the potential impacts and risks associated with hydraulic fracturing. Accordingly, on 3 December 2016, the Government announced that it had established the Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing of Onshore Unconventional Reservoirs and Associated Activities in the Northern Territory (Inquiry) under the Inquiries Act 1945 (NT). The Government has stated publicly that the moratorium will stay in place for the duration of the Inquiry. The Inquiry is chaired by the Hon Justice Rachel Pepper, a judge of the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales. The Inquiry panel is comprised of a number of eminent scientists across a range of relevant disciplines (Panel). A list of the names and biographies of the Chair and the Panel members can be found on the Inquirys website at www.frackinginquiry.nt.gov.au. Introduction

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