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Gas Wars: Episode NT - Empire must not frack

Protect Country Alliance is alarmed “junior” gas companies are being given approval to frack areas of the Northern Territory where studies are yet to be conducted into the impact of the polluting practice.

It was reported today that Empire Energy is the first junior company to have environmental management plans (EMP) in the Beetaloo and McArthur basins accepted for assessment by the Northern Territory Government since the lifting of the fracking moratorium.

Protect Country Alliance spokesperson Graeme Sawyer said if big gas companies like Origin and Santos couldn’t conduct operations without environmental disasters, there was little hope for smaller, less experienced companies.

“Origin’s coal seam gas extraction activities in Queensland led to the Condamine River being able to be set alight due to escaping methane, while SANTOS was fined $52,500 over failure to report CSG spills in the Pilliga,” Mr Sawyer said. 

“When these giant companies are polluting the environment and putting people’s health at risk, we have little hope that smaller companies will be able to manage the serious and complicated risks associated with fracking in the NT.

“There are lots of interconnected river systems in the region Empire is targeting that flow into the Gulf, and studies into the area and risks of fracking have not been done.

“We are calling on the Gunner Government to conduct the necessary studies required in not only the areas where Empire Energy is active, but wherever gas companies are preparing to frack across the NT.”

Mr Sawyer said this was yet another example of the NT government desperately trying to create an illusion of economic development when Territorians still had no real knowledge of the scope of the risks of fracking until an appropriate Strategic Regional Environmental and Baseline Assessment was completed.

“Bizarrely, Empire’s subsidiary, Imperial Oil & Gas has an application that is asking for approval for drilling when the company has not even identified the exact site yet,” he said.

“This is clearly a rushed process showing inadequate government processes yet again.”

Nicholas Milyari Fitzpatrick, a young Yanyuwa and Garrawa leader from the Borroloola region and Seed Indigegnous Youth Climate Network said, “Our people are struggling a lot and have been for a while. We have a very high rate of suicide. 

“We need help to revive and strengthen our cultures because English as a first language is obviously not working for us. This cannot be done if our land and water is wrecked forever by mining, gas, and oil companies.

“We are connected to the land - it is part of us, and we are part of it.

“To destroy the land destroys us, and to destroy us destroys the land.

“The connection we have to this great country is very deep - don’t frack the NT, we are sick of being hurt.”

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