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Fracking the Kimberley

Australia's Kimberley region has some of the largest, intact, natural landscapes left in the world. It has globally significant wetlands, free-flowing river systems and pristine oceans, and provides refuge for threatened wildlife that have disappeared from most of Australia.  

The Kimberley is also a culturally rich region, home to a living Aboriginal culture that is tens of thousands of years old.

But all this is at risk. This iconic region in North West WA has been identified as having some of the largest untapped shale gas and tight sands gas reserves in the world, and companies are gearing up to frack for gas.

Fracking in the Kimberley

Unconventional gas production requires fracking and involves the industrialisation of entire landscapes. The proposed pipeline from the Kimberley to the Pilbara for gas export would open the region up to expansive, industrial-scale gasfields, with potentially thousands of wells and vast greenhouse gas emissions.

Fitzroy River Floodplain- Damian Kelly Photography

What's at Risk?

The Kimberley region is a biodiversity hotspot which harbours extensive unique and vulnerable biodiversity values, including coastal wetlands and threatened plants and animals.

There are 3.26 million hectares of current petroleum titles across the Kimberley- an area greater than entire countries like Belgium and Israel. These license areas include the lower catchment of the iconic and national heritage-listed Fitzroy River and the Roebuck Wetlands, which are listed on the Directory of Important Wetlands of Australia.

The area covered by petroleum titles in the Kimberley contains known or likely habitat for 32 nationally endangered and vulnerable species under Federal environment laws and 33 threatened species under WA biodiversity conservation laws.

Threatened flora and fauna species under threat include the Greater Bilby, Northern Quoll, Freshwater Sawfish, Gouldian Finch and Australian Painted Snipe.

Gas Development

Unconventional gas development represents a significant threat to Kimberley plants and wildlife because it involves extensive vegetation clearing and fragmentation associated with numerous wells, extensive networks of roads and pipelines and associated infrastructure like compression stations and water treatment facilities.

Even in the early stages of oil and gas exploration in the Kimberley there have been significant impacts, with Buru Energy bulldozing globally significant vegetation over a distance as great as from Perth to London for seismic testing. And from three exploration wells, locals have witnessed a wastewater pond overflowing and a well leaking greenhouse gases.

Imagine what will happen if thousands of wells cover these landscapes! 

Traditional Owners are saying NO

In response to the 2018 fracking inquiry, the McGowan government promised Traditional Owners the right to veto fracking projects on their country. At least four Traditional Owner groups in the Kimberley oppose fracking, but Mc Gowan is yet to respect the government’s commitment and enshrine the veto right.

As Mangala Martu Traditional Custodian Nuriah Jadai says:

“We are a very spiritual people and we’ve been here a very long time, thousands of years, and we know how to look after the country, we know how to look after the animals and the plants, and the water.

“We stand for a frack free Kimberley and a frack free Australia … our voice is not going to stop … let’s tell them to frack off and leave this Kimberley alone!”

Who wants to frack the Kimberley?

  • Origin Energy - Origin is already involved in fracking plans across iconic parts of the Northern Territory and has expansion plans for thousands of wells across Queensland. Origin has a commercial arrangement with Buru Energy.
  • Buru Energy - was previously the only company to frack in the Kimberley. The company is currently involved in exploration and production drilling for conventional oil and gas in the Kimberley but hasn’t ruled out fracking again in the future. 

  • Black Mountain Energy - a Texan company, under the subsidiary Bennett Resources, is the first company since the fracking moratorium was lifted to put forward a proposal to frack in WA. Its 20 exploration well proposal in the Kimberley is currently being assessed by the EPA. Black Mountain is also pushing for a massive pipeline to be built from the Kimberley to the Pilbara to export gas - opening up to the Kimberley to export scale gasfields and industrialisation.
  • Theia Energy - also submitted an exploration frack proposal in the Kimberley to the EPA. Theia has since withdrawn this particular proposal, but has submitted a new plan only to DMIRS without referral to the EPA, in what appears to be an attempt to circumvent or pre-empt EPA assessment of a drilling project that will require fracking.

What are the climate impacts?

Climate Analytics have analysed the climate impacts of fracking in the Kimberley, finding that the domestic carbon footprint from WA’s unconventional gas resources is about three times what Australia is allowed to emit in order to comply with the Paris Agreement. The carbon footprint of Canning Basin resources alone is equivalent to about double this budget.

And this doesn’t even account for the burning of the gas overseas! Unconventional gas is difficult to extract, so more methane and carbon dioxide escape during the extraction process. Fracked gas wells are a carbon bomb, and the exploitation of the Kimberley will make it impossible for Australia to meet its climate targets.

Take action

The local community has already held the industry at bay in the Kimberley for ten long years. But they’re up against cashed up multinational companies with the full backing of government. They can't win the battle to protect this magnificent region on their own.

The West Australian government has the power to stop fracking in the Kimberley. But instead they’re encouraging fracking by allowing Black Mountain a special deal allowing them to export their gas.

Sign our petition below telling Mark McGowan to keep the Kimberley frack free!


Ban fracking in the Kimberley- before it’s too late

Western Australia’s iconic Kimberley region is under threat from fracking!

Communities, culture and natural wonders are all at risk from oil and gas developments.

We can't let them destroy this iconic place! Add your voice to the call for a fracking ban.


Premier Cook - the Kimberley is too precious to open up to fracking oil & gasfields. Fracking puts the Kimberley’s environmental diversity and cultures at risk.

Don’t leave people in a sacrifice zone. If fracking is too risky for the people of the South West, Perth and Peel regions where it’s banned, it’s too risky for the Kimberley and the rest of WA too.

We call on you to ban fracking in the Kimberley.

Will you sign?