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Frackers line up for taxpayer handouts following NCCC leaked reports

Lock the Gate Alliance is deeply concerned lobbying efforts by fracking companies to obtain taxpayer handouts appear to be working and have increased in response to the National COVID-19 Commission Advisory Board’s plan to have government underwrite gas projects.

In its latest Quarterly Activities report, Queensland fracking company Blue Energy implies it is lobbying governments to use taxpayer funds to help build a new gas pipeline linking Moranbah in the Bowen Basin, where the company holds a large tenement, to the Gladstone/Wallumbilla pipeline.

Shortly after the report was released, the Queensland Palaszczuk Government announced a $5 million feasibility study to investigate a gas pipeline from the Bowen Basin, which Blue Energy welcomed.

In its Quarterly statement to the ASX, Blue Energy says, “Leaked NCCC final report recommends Federal Government underwrite gas supply contracts and gas pipeline infrastructure. Blue is working with APA, Arrow Energy, the Federal Govt, the Queensland State Govt, Federal and State politicians, and the NCCC to ensure the Moranbah-Gladstone/Wallumbilla pipeline gains broad acceptance as critical energy infrastructure… to facilitate the develop of the 15,000PJ Bowen Basin gas province.

In its announcement, the company goes on to reference media coverage of leaked NCCC reports as evidence for potentially available subsidies, despite the reports not being official government policy.

LTGA Queensland spokesperson Ellie Smith said public money should not be used to prop up dirty, polluting, and financially unviable unconventional gas projects that would ravage farming operations in Queensland and drain precious underground water supplies.

“Around the world, unconventional gas projects are bleeding money because they do not stack up financially on their own,” she said.

“Billions of dollars have been wiped off the Australian LNG industry alone since the global oil market crash, which ravaged the sector even before Covid-19 was impacting global markets.

“It’s clear the only way these unconventional gas companies can make money is if they stick out their hands for huge public subsidies.

“Governments should not be subsidising an economically unstable, polluting industry, let alone one that leads to the destruction of farmland and the draining of precious underground water supplies.

“The Queensland Palaszczuk Government needs to urgently rein in unconventional gas companies after alarming revelations earlier this year from the Queensland Audit Office that successive state governments have effectively lost track of the unconventional gas industry in Queensland.

“We also know the unconventional gas industry is wreaking havoc on Queensland’s underground water supplies, with the 2019 Underground water impact report (UWIR) for the Surat Basin showing more than 100 farming bores in the Surat Basin had been drained due to CSG, and predicting a further 500 would be drained if the industry expanded as expected.”

Defiant community opposition to fracking last year drove Blue Energy from the Wide Bay-Burnett region where the company had wanted to drill prime agricultural land around Bundaberg.

The company’s Quarterly Report also shows the Queensland Government recently granted three Potential Commercial Areas (PCA) in an exploration permit Blue Energy holds in the northern Bowen Basin near Moranbah, with “the remainder of the outstanding PCAs… expected to be decided in the coming weeks”.

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