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Kimberley Fracking Pipelines

Multiple companies hold licences to explore for shale gas from the Canning Basin, which underlies the Kimberley in northern WA. Two plans for pipelines to transport Kimberley gas have been proposed, one by fracking company Black Mountain Energy, and the other by the Federal Government’s ‘National COVID Coordination Commission’.

Black Mountain Energy

US-owned Black Mountain Energy, via its subsidiary Bennet Resources, has put forward a proposal for 20 new fracking wells at its ‘Valhalla’ project in the western Kimberley. The export of natural gas from WA is banned, but the WA Government gave Black Mountain an exemption from this ban in the hope that the company would fund the construction of pipelines to transport the gas - and therefore enable the development of an onshore gas industry in the Kimberley. 

Black Mountain has stated it is in discussions with pipeline companies about building a pipeline from the Canning and connecting to the WA gas network near Port Hedland. Additional gas would be destined to the North West Shelf LNG plant near Karratha. (Image Source: Environs Kimberley)








Transcontinental gas pipeline

An alternative plan for transporting Kimberley gas is a massive new pipeline running eastwards to the eastern states’ gas markets and export terminals. A transcontinental west-east pipeline has been raised several times over the past few decades, including by the Turnbull Government in 2017. A feasibility study into the potential pipeline commissioned by the Turnbull Government found that underwriting the pipeline would pose an unacceptable risk to government given its high costs and the rapid changes in demand for gas expected in coming years. 

However, the Federal Government’s COVID recovery commission - led and advised by multiple high-flyers from the gas industry - raised the plan again in its interim report, released in 2020. The Commission recommended government direct investment towards the gas industry, including by underwriting a network of new pipelines linking the Canning to the east coast. Given that the Commission’s advice was kept largely secret, it’s unclear if this recommendation made it into any final reports to government.