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Broker: Farm Insurance Won’t Cover Fracking Risks

An insurance broker has advised a Northern Territory pastoralist that he would be placing himself at serious risk if he agreed to fracking on his property, and that some of the risks involved are virtually uninsurable.

Northern Territory pastoralist Rod Dunbar said “I was gobsmacked by the clear feedback from my insurer, basically telling me that I risk being uninsurable if I sign an access agreement allowing Origin to frack on my place.

“In my opinion, Origin failed to provide me information on the risks and it’s bloody lucky I checked in with my insurer, or I could have risked losing the lot” he said.

Pastoralist Rod Dunbar’s property sits atop the Beetaloo Basin Shale gas resource. He’s on the front line of land access negotiations with Origin for fracking gas wells.

Mr Dunbar showed the draft Origin Access Agreement the company wanted him to sign to his insurer and asked if it would impact his insurance coverage.

The advice came back stating that he would need to get both pollution liability and contractual liability coverage in order to insure against damage caused by Origin but that the ‘insurance premium costs we would consider enormous, if cover could even be obtained which we would consider is doubtful’.

He was also advised that the premium on his existing farm and public liability insurance coverage was likely to double due to ‘increased risk of fire and explosions’.

“It’s just outrageous that pastoralists like me should have to bear these massive costs and risks which are been imposed by Origin because of the likely loss and damage from unconventional gas mining to groundwater, surface water and property infrastructure.

“After this advice from my insurance broker, I absolutely will not be not signing away access to my land for risky fracking operations,” he said.

Lock the Gate NT Coordinator Naomi Hogan said, “We applaud pastoralist Rod Dunbar for speaking out about the way that Origin Energy has attempted to undermine his cattle operations and shift all the risks from fracking over to him.”

“We’re calling on all governments across Australia to mandate that gas companies must hold comprehensive environmental insurance for all potential risks, to prevent farmers being left to carry the can for the damage caused by fracking and unconventional gas,” she said.

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