More than 200,000 hectares of petroleum production licences that covered the floodplains of the Lake Eyre Basin in Far Western Queensland have vanished, and groups opposed to fracking in the region are hopeful it’s a sign of things to come.
Ten of the eleven Origin Energy-owned Channel Country tenements, which covered an area larger than the ACT, were relinquished by the company last month. Origin previously announced a decision to get out of new exploratory gas basins in September last year.
While the company sold other tenements to Tamboran Resources in the Northern Territory and to Buru Energy in Western Australia’s Kimberley, it has reportedly “surrendered” its licences in the Lake Eyre Basin altogether.
The news comes shortly after the Palaszczuk Government released a long awaited consultation plan for the future of the Lake Eyre Basin and its unique floodplains.
Media has this morning reported the government will not make the tenements available to any other fracking company while this consultation is underway.
Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson and grazier Nick Holliday said stakeholder groups involved in negotiations over the future of the Channel Country’s floodplains were hopeful the tenements did not reappear under a different company, and the many thousands of hectares of similar tenements would soon also disappear from the map.
“We hope this victory is permanent, and the Palaszczuk Government declares a total ban on oil and gas development in the floodplains of the Lake Eyre Basin at the end of the consultation period,” he said.
“More than half a million hectares of Channel Country flood plains remain under petroleum tenements, owned by companies like Santos.
“Origin didn’t give up on these tenements out of charity - it did so because in a decarbonising world, fracking for fossil gas in a place as remote as Far Western QLD makes less and less commercial sense.
“But we know not all petroleum companies are smart enough to understand this. Queensland’s unique desert river systems remain under threat until the Palaszczuk Government formally bans oil and gas development on the floodplains.
“These floodplains are sacred to Traditional Owners, and without them, there would be no thriving tourism or clean green beef industries. The Channel Country can have all this, or it can have oil and gas. It can’t have both.”
“We hope this is a sign of things to come, and the Palaszczuk Government is finally making good on its promise to protect some of the last free flowing desert rivers in the world from the scourge of fracking.
“These floodplains support a huge organic beef industry, a huge tourism industry, and are of course sacred to Traditional Owners. All this would be lost if fracking is allowed to pollute and disrupt the flow of these rivers and floodplains.”