NSW Government mobilises plans to frack for gas in Western NSW

Tights Sands gas mining (unconventional gas) is once again on the agenda after the NSW Government quietly reopened the Preliminary Regional Issues Assessment (PRIA) for Western NSW.

The original PRIA was announced in 2017 and covered an area half the size of the recent announcement.

The NSW Government says “Preliminary Regional Issues Assessment is an initial assessment of social, environmental and economic matters relating to areas that could be released for petroleum exploration. It involves engaging with interested and potentially impacted stakeholders to identify issues for consideration as part of the Strategic Release Framework for Coal and Petroleum.

However, inadequate public consultation about the proposed expansion of the gas fracking industry has been severely criticised by Barwon MP Roy Butler (SFF) who said he is “disgusted” with the Government’s action. Read Roy Butler’s statement here.

“Frankly I am disgusted at the manner in which the Government has chosen to announce this exploration, by stealth, with the community only able to have their say if they’re registered to do so,” said Mr Butler.

Mr Butler’s reference to the 17th February registration deadline is a comment on what many believe to be a deliberate attempt by the NSW government to lock out public consultation to all but the small number who noticed the poorly advertised notification of the impending gas expansion.

As a result of a Notice of Motion made by the Barwon MP, registration has been left open to enable you to have your say. You can email here to register your interest.

What is Tight Sands gas mining?

Tight gas is the term commonly used to refer to low-permeability reservoirs that produce mainly dry natural gas. Many of the low-permeability reservoirs developed in the past are sandstone, but significant quantities of gas also are produced from low-permeability carbonates, shales, and coal seams.

The difference between conventional and unconventional gas (tight sands) is the geology of the reservoirs from which they are extracted. See fact sheet here:

Tight Sands gas mining invariably:

  • requires large amounts of water
  • requires hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”
  • requires large amounts of chemicals

Which regions in far west NSW are targeted?

• Wilcannia • Menindee
• Ivanhoe • Hillston
• Broken Hill • Cobar
• White Cliffs • Tibooburra

Map of proposed areas for developmentThe Darling River flows right through the centre of the troughs

The NSW Government has produced Data Packages for all target plays including a review of the structure, geology, basin evolution, history of exploration, and analysis of petroleum systems, the packages cost $70 each. An assessment of the Bancannia, Pondie and Yathong-Ivanhoe Troughs is publicly available on the DIGS website. See pdfs inserted below.

Bancannia Data Package

Bancannia_Report_2018

“Hydrocarbon potential: The Bancannia Trough is considered to have relatively moderate petroleum prospectivity within the broader Darling Basin. The three wells that intersect Devonian units within the Trough: Bancannia North 1, Bancannia South 1, and Jupiter 1 all have minor hydrocarbon shows, mainly in the form of elevated gas readings. However, Bancannia South 1 also contained traces of bitumen on cuttings. The southernmost part of the trough is believed to be the most prospective area in the Devonian units.”

Pondie Range Data Package

Pondie_Range_Trough_Data_Package_Report_2018

“The Pondie Range Trough Petroleum Data Package 2018 is a product of the New Frontiers Minerals and Energy Exploration Initiative of the Geological Survey of New South Wales (GSNSW), Division of Resources and Geoscience, Department of Planning and Environment. The studies and wells drilled to date in the Pondie Range Trough indicate potential for the discovery of new petroleum resources.”

Yathong-Ivanhoe Data Package

Yathong-Ivanhoe_Trough_Data_Package_Report_2020

“The analysis of existing geoscientific data within the Yathong–Ivanhoe Trough, in conjunction with the data from adjacent troughs, provides direct and indirect evidence for the presence of key elements of a petroleum system. The available datasets, and their interpretation, indicate that the Yathong–Ivanhoe Trough has the potential for a petroleum discovery.”

Paradigm Resources Pty Ltd role in question

Paradigm Resources Pty Ltd is the original company that was mentioned in the release in 2017 but its online presence has since disappeared. The ASIC Register now lists this company as being under ‘External Administration’ which seems to point to insolvency.

Paradigm Resources says the areas contain the potential for unconventional “tight sands” gas which could require extraction using the controversial hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” method. High profile names associated with Paradigm Resources include former Democrats Senator, Aiden Ridgeway, Andrew Mayo (whose daughter Georgy Mayo is an APPEA Director), Jason Needham (ex Dart Energy) and Brad Mullard (Industry Consultant). More recent appointments include Stephen Hynd (Executive Director at NSWALC Enterprises) based in City of Parramatta, New South Wales and Jonathan Ralph Wassell (ex Aboriginal Affairs NSW) have become involved.

Map of the proposed areas for Tight Sands gas mining in relation to the state of NSW

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