06/06/2013 - 14:28

Shale gas to secure WA's energy future: Marmion

06/06/2013 - 14:28

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Shale gas to secure WA's energy future: Marmion

Unconventional gas developments could ensure Western Australia's energy security and provide significant economic benefits within the decade, Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Marmion says.

The statement follows a recent push by the state government to develop onshore gas opportunities and the release of a new report from the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) on the fledgling industry in Australia, which illustrated great potential for shale gas.

However the ACOLA report cautioned that the Australian experience would differ greatly from that in the US, would cost more, and would require careful environmental management.

In May, Premier Colin Barnett introduced a bill ratifying a Natural Gas (Canning Basin Joint Venture) Agreement between the state government, Buru Energy Limited and Mitsubishi Corporation, which will allow the companies to explore for unconventional gas in the Canning Basin.

Mr Marmion said if and when exploration proved successful, the first possible shale gas production was five to 10 years away.

He said significant build-up and investment in equipment and infrastructure would be required and could provide significant economic benefits to WA.

"The obvious examples of direct benefits include the increasing investment in WA operations by petroleum companies; local employment through exploration, construction, operation and related services; and the flow-on benefits for the WA community from royalties from future operations,"Mr Marmion said.

He said domestic gas supplies from the offshore North West Shelf Joint Venture and the Varanus Island Hub were expected to fall below demand by as early as 2016.

"These supplies are likely to decrease and, therefore, it is vital that alternative energy supplies are sourced. Natural gas from shale could be an important future source,"Mr Marmion said.

The report released yesterday estimated there was 396 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas contained in the state's four basins, and if all prospective basins are considered, the undiscovered resources could be in excess of 1,000tcf, although this value has a high degree of uncertainty.

WA's current domestic gas consumption is about 0.33tcf per year.

Within WA, the most shale gas resources are in the Canning Basin, while there are also shale gas resources in the Carnarvon and Perth basins and the Amadeus basin, which stretches slightly into the state from its main body in the south of the Northern Territory.

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