Western Australia Lifts Fracking Ban
The government of the state of Western Australia announced November 27 that it has lifted the statewide moratorium on fracking, but said that it will not be permitted across 98% of the state.
The fracking moratorium will only be lifted on existing petroleum titles, after independent scientific inquiry finds that the risk is low, it said. The moratorium was imposed last year while the inquiry was ongoing.
"Banning fracking on existing petroleum titles, after the scientific inquiry found the risk from fracking is low, would undermine Western Australia's reputation as a safe place to invest and do business," said Western Australia's premier Mark McGowan.
"We've delivered our election promise to ban fracking in Perth, Peel and the South-West, and now we're introducing new world-class strict controls to regulate the industry in other parts of the State, following the findings of an independent scientific inquiry,” he added.
The existing ban in the South-West, Peel and the Perth metropolitan region will remain in place. National parks, Dampier Peninsula and public water source areas have also been declared off limits. The government said that consent by traditional owners and farmers will be required before fracking production is allowed.
The government also said that royalties from any unconventional onshore oil and gas projects will be used to support new renewable energy projects via a special Clean Energy Future Fund with a A$9mn seed allocation. The royalty rate for unconventional oil and gas will increase to 10%, the same rate that applies to conventional petroleum production.
The decision to lift the moratorium comes after 12-month independent inquiry by Environmental Protection Authority chairman Tom Hatton.
The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (Appea) welcomed the decision. "The independent scientific inquiry has confirmed that properly regulated, hydraulic fracturing is a safe practice. Hydraulic fracturing has been used safely in Western Australia since 1958," said Appea's CEO Malcolm Roberts, adding: "While the industry would have preferred the removal of the moratorium across the state, this decision will give communities in regional WA the choice to support local projects and jobs."