The million dollar fine handed to Shell/PetroChina joint venture coal seam gas company Arrow Energy is a small start to cracking down on the rogue industry in Queensland, but much more needs to be done, according to Lock the Gate Alliance.
It’s unlikely a $1 million fine will act as a significant deterrent to a company like Shell (Arrow’s parent company), which recently posted a profit of more than $19 billion.
The fine follows sustained pressure on Arrow and the Palaszczuk Government following revelations Arrow illegally drilled deviated wells beneath farmers’ land without the farmers’ knowledge and without prior access agreements, a legal requirement in Queensland.
Lock the Gate Alliance Queensland spokesperson Ellie Smith said while the fine fell well short, it was an important first step for the Palaszczuk Government.
“This is ultimately just a slap on the wrist for a massive multinational company like Shell/PetroChina and it won’t stop them doing it again,” she said.
“The gas company clearly should have been prosecuted for illegally drilling under farms without farmers’ consent or even knowledge.
“The company’s behaviour was reckless and illegal, and caused farmers significant distress.
“Minor changes to company procedures won’t fix this. Farmers want an unequivocal right to say no to mining on or under their land and Queenslanders want the farms that produce their food and fibre protected and prioritised over short term, damaging gas.
“The unconventional gas industry has left a trail of destruction across some of the best farmland in Queensland over the past decade, draining water bores, contaminating farmland and causing land to subside.
“Despite what the Palaszczuk Government believes, gas companies and farming cannot coexist.
“Gas is a fossil fuel like any other, and is driving catastrophic climate change events like the devastating east coast floods so many are still recovering from.
“What we need now is a full, independent and transparent review of the industry in Queensland.
“We need farmers to be given the unequivocal legal right to refuse gas companies on their property. Anything less will result in repeated violations by companies like Arrow Energy.”