Showing posts with label Coal Seam Gas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Coal Seam Gas. Show all posts

Friday, 29 September 2017

"As our land subsides and cracks open and our permanent creek is sucked dry, I can feel our patience towards the miners doing the same"


The Land, 24 September 2017:


Environmental hypocrisy
FOR the past 20 years, my husband and I have experienced first-hand the mining industry’s attitude to impacted farmers and to rehabilitation. 
Now, their recent attacks on environmental charities makes my blood boil. As the unsuspecting neighbours of the Wambo underground coal mine near Singleton, our beef cattle business’ productivity has been cut almost in half.
As our land subsides and cracks open and our permanent creek is sucked dry, I can feel our patience towards the miners doing the same. 
Despite decades of word-fests, reports and promises, we have seen no real action at all from the mining company to rehabilitate our land, or our creek water.        
It turns out our experience is not isolated; only nine per cent of all mining land across Australia has been successfully rehabilitated. Across Australia there are massive voids filling with toxic water, poisoned or destroyed creeks and land subsiding. And the mining industry’s solution to their gaping mess: get environmental charities to clean it up!
Currently there are reforms being proposed to the Tax Deductibility Status of all sectors of charities by Federal Treasury.  
The miners see this as their chance to not only duck their own responsibilities, but to also pass the buck to environmental charities. The changes promoted by the mining sector, single out environmental charities only, for them to spend half their time on physical works to clean up the toxic messes created by the mining industry.
The hypocrisy is astounding. When I saw that one organisation close to my heart, the Lock The Gate Alliance, was under attack by these reforms, I was sickened. Without them, our fight to rehabilitate our farm would have been a lot harder.  
Their help with connecting us with politicians and government officials, getting our story into the media and sharing experiences of other mine-impacted people has been priceless. 
Most importantly they help to keep us sane, giving us hope that one day we will break the impasse of inaction by the miners.
We earn our money, we pay taxes and we can choose to support charities that we believe are helping to create a better world. 
They should be left alone to do their work without these extra burdens, designed to feather the nest of multinational mining companies.
Wambo mine, and hundreds like it across Australia, must factor the cost of properly rehabilitating land and water into their cost of doing business.  
Otherwise it is a sham business model that the community is subsidising.
The proposed changes could mean Lock the Gate would have less time to help advocate for the rights of farmers to produce clean food for Australia. 
Instead, they’d be forced out into our paddocks with shovels, filling in the sink holes made by the mines.
We need groups like Lock the Gate holding the mining companies to account. 
I appreciate the help in getting my voice heard as a food grower. We need this to be a public debate in our cities.
If these changes go through, our support of Lock the Gate would be wasted on endless clean up jobs, while the miners continue to make profits and mighty mess, skirting any legal responsibilities for rehabilitation. And I for one find that an abomination.
Miners, clean up your own mess and leave farmers and Lock the Gate alone.
Janet Fenwick,
Bulga.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Knitting Nannas Visit Narrabri and Proposed Santos Gasfield During Third Annual Conference


The Knitting Nannas Against Gas and Greed (KNAG) held their third annual conference at Narrabri on August 25-27. Attendees came from around NSW and further afield. The theme of this year’s conference was “Well behaved women seldom make history”.    
Narrabri was chosen as the venue because of its proximity to Santos’ proposed gasfield.  (The gasfield starts 6 km from the Narrabri Post Office.)

The attendees welcomed the opportunity to network with other Nannas and to hear inspiring speeches from Sue Higginson (Environmental Defender’s Office ) and Sydney Morning Herald journalist  Elizabeth Farrelly as well as women from the local Gomeroi community.  Unfortunately Janelle Saffin, who had been scheduled to speak, was an apology because of illness.

Perhaps the most important aspect of the conference was the opportunity to learn more about Santos’ gasfield which will cover a large area of farmland as well as the Pilliga Forest. In addition to hearing about local concerns, the Nannas had the opportunity to tour parts of the gasfield.

This immense development of 850 gas wells will have a devastating impact on the biodiverse-rich Pilliga Forest which provides habitat for a range of threatened species including Koala.  It’s not just the number of wells proposed but all the accompanying infrastructure such as roads, pipelines, vents and flares which mean that large amounts of the forest will be cleared.

So here we have land owned by the people of NSW – it’s OUR forest – which is going to be devastated so that Santos can make massive profits.  What was of great concern is that there has ALREADY been extensive infrastructure (wells, flares, wastewater storage and pipelines) developed in the Pilliga Forest – although to date it has only been a pilot project. Forest clearing is not the only issue about Santos’ gasfield.  There are major concerns. about contamination of the water table and impact on the recharge of the Great Artesian Basin. Santos also has a poor record in preventing and then cleaning up toxic spills during operation of its pilot project. And then there’s the question of the disposal of huge volumes of produced water and salt.  Santos has not provided satisfactory answers to these and many other questions.

While final approval has not yet been given for this proposal[1], the Nannas are concerned about the NSW Government’s record in pushing destructive mining projects which are not in the long-term community interest. We fear that this project will be approved despite all the opposition and the very many concerns about its long-term impacts.  It seems the big end of town is much more important to our politicians than the future health of our natural environment or productive farmland.   The Nannas want to see this change.

- Leonie the Novice Knitter


[1] The massive EIS was on exhibition earlier this year.  A final decision on whether the project will be allowed to go ahead is yet to be made.

Images supplied

Guest Speak is a North Coast Voices segment allowing serious or satirical comment from NSW Northern Rivers residents. Email northcoastvoices at gmail dot com dot au to submit comment for consideration

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

"Water Is Life" anti-fracking campaign hit Australia's highways on 8 July 2017


Some images from the Water Is Life anti-fracking event held along the nation's highways on Sauturday, 8 July 2017.



Well done, one and all!

*All images found on Twitter

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

People Power in The Pilliga


HuffPost, 8 June 2017:
It's easily the largest dryland forest in NSW (and indeed eastern Australia). The area is a treasure. In addition to its inherent natural beauty, it has a rare far-inland koala population, as well as almost unbelievably pure groundwater…..

The Department of Planning & Environment told HuffPost Australia that Santos will now be asked to provide a detailed response to the issues raised in submissions, and that the Department will seek advice from a range of independent scientific experts.
"There is no fixed time frame for the assessment of the project, but a final decision is not likely until next year," a Department spokesman told us.
You get the impression that Kennedy and many people like her will continue to agitate while they await the decision.
"I would say that this unprecedented enormous number of submissions objecting to this would clearly say to our government that they are wrong, and that they failed to listen to the people," Kennedy said.
"Not failed, but deliberately ignored our constant visits, our endless supply of information and science we provided to them over many years, proving that this industry would destroy our land and water.
"They constantly said that there were just a few selfish ratbag farmers, who wanted to protect their land and water from being destroyed by this industry, and who wanted to be able to continue to supply clean food and water to future generations of Australians.
"They said we were a tiny minority, that most people supported this gas project. The 23,000 submissions prove that its not just a handful of selfish farmers. It is the public. It is all the people who live here and want to continue to eat clean food, drink clean water, and have healthy lives."…..
In addition to threatening the water supply of farmers like Anne Kennedy, contaminated water would have terrible implications for the fauna of the Pilliga, like this adorable little threatened eastern pygmy possum.

Friday, 26 May 2017

NSW nurses & midwives stand with Pilliga-Narrabri communities against Santos coal seam gas project


“Santos expects to build 850 production wells over the next two decades” within the mining lease. ABC NEWS, 10 April 2017, PHOTO: An aerial shot of the Santos CSG exploration project in the Pilliga. (Audience supplied: Dean Sewell)

Echo NetDaily, 19 May 2017:

Local nurses are voicing their concerns about the threat to health in a submission to the government objecting not only to the Santos Narrabri Coal Seam Gas Project, but to all CSG mining across NSW.

It was following a successful motion put forward by the Lismore Base Hospital branch of the New South Wales Nurses and Midwives Association that the a submission was lodged.

‘As nurses and midwives we believe that an ecologically sustainable environment promotes health and wellbeing. We are greatly concerned about the health of communities impacted by CSG’, said Heather Ryan Dunn, midwife and Vice President of the Lismore Base branch of the NSWNMA. ‘We also know that climate change is the biggest threat we are currently facing and that decisions made today will impact greatly on future generations.’

The 20 page submission which includes references to CSG well accidents and risks to human health via contaminated water and air pollution, is one of approximately 12,000 already submitted in response to the EIS, a record breaking and resounding ‘no’ from objectors to the project.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Of Gas and Hot Air


Energy security became a major political issue following a storm-induced blackout in South Australia late last year.  Instead of the massive storm which knocked over the transmission towers being the “villain”, the Prime Minister and his Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg  blamed the state’s level of renewable (wind) energy for the outage. They have persisted with this version of events regardless of all the evidence to the contrary.
In the months since then politicians and others have had a great deal to say about the national energy grid and its shortcomings and renewables and base-load power.  Ideology has played a very significant part in the statements of many politicians. This of course means that truth has often been twisted or completely ignored. 
Recently the focus has been on gas and a predicted gas shortage.
Despite the claims of the Government and many industry players, there is no general gas shortage.  There is, however, a looming domestic shortage because most of the enormous volume of gas being extracted is being exported. 
The Federal Government has rather belatedly recognised that, despite the fact that Australia will soon be the largest gas-exporting country in the world, there will be a shortage of gas for the domestic market.  Moreover, the Government has realised that domestic consumers are paying more for gas than consumers of Australian gas in Japan - even after the cost of processing and transporting of the resource to that country. This has become a rather urgent matter for the Government because domestic gas prices and the uncertainty of supply is hurting local industries.  For a government that talks about jobs and growth, permitting more of our dwindling manufacturing base going either “down the gurgler” or offshore would be politically foolish.
As the Prime Minister’s meetings in recent months with the major gas exporters have not produced the cooperation he hoped for, he recently decided to take further action.  It is action that the industry is unhappy about saying that this will discourage global investment, a claim which is unsubstantiated. There are others, including some in the Government, who believe that this interference in the market is not justified.
What happens elsewhere?  Western Australia, the one Australian state which had the forethought to realise that there was a need to protect local interests, has a gas reservation policy[1]. Many other countries, including Canada, the USA, Israel, Indonesia and Egypt, have various mechanisms to ensure that they won’t end up in the situation that Australia is heading towards.  In their rush to encourage foreign investment, successive Australian Federal Governments failed to see that safeguards to protect domestic gas supplies were needed in the national interest.
Prime Minister Turnbull has stated that his measures will only be needed for the short term because he expects that there will be further development of local gasfields which can service the domestic market. He is referring specifically to NSW and Victoria which have currently stopped unconventional gas mining. (There is an exception in NSW.  Santos’ project in the Pilliga in the north-west is currently going through the planning approval process.)
The Prime Minister is one of many politicians and industry players who have weighed in wanting the opening up of NSW and Victoria to coal seam and unconventional gas mining. 
Recently Ian Macfarlane, the head of the Queensland Resources Council, and a former federal Coalition Minister, criticised the NSW and Victorian Governments for lacking the will to develop their gas resources in the same way that Queensland has.[2] 
What Macfarlane either does not understand or conveniently ignores is that it is what happened in Queensland as well as overseas in the USA and elsewhere that alarmed communities in NSW and Victoria and generated the campaigns against CSG and unconventional gas mining – campaigns that have gathered strength also in the Northern Territory and the north-west of Western Australia. 
In his interview with Leigh Sales on ABC TV’s 7.30 on April 27 Macfarlane paints a very rosy picture of the industry in Queensland [3]. He claims “irresponsible green activism” stopped the industry in NSW.   Blaming the anti-gas campaign on the “greenie” bogey is convenient for many conservatives but is far from a true reflection of the breadth of community opposition to an invasive and polluting industry.
It will be interesting to see whether the urging of the Federal Government and proponents like Macfarlane encourage the NSW and Victorian Governments to change their positions on gas mining. If this happens, the reaction from those who see the industry as an unacceptable threat to agriculture and the environment is easy to predict.
Hildegard
Northern Rivers         
5 May 2017

GuestSpeak is a feature of North Coast Voices allowing Northern Rivers residents to make satirical or serious comment on issues that concern them. Posts of 250-300 words or less can be submitted to ncvguestspeak AT gmail.com.au for consideration. Longer posts will be considered on topical subjects.

Memo to all federal and state members of parliament: The Great Artesian Basin is not a vast underground sea of fresh water so stop treating it as if it is


Figure 1. The Great Artesian Basin; spring cluster data sourced from Fensham (2006Fensham, R. 2006. Spring wetlands of the Great Artesian Basin. Paper for the 2006 Australian State of the Environment Committee, Department of Environment and Heritage, Canberra.http://www.deh.gov.au/soe/2006/emerging/wetlands/index.html(accessed December 16, 2014). ).

It is long past time that all parliamentarians of every political persuasion ceased robbing the nation of its present and future water security with their petty partisan politics and insane reliance on ideology over scientific fact.

In simple language Kim de RijkePaul Munro & Maria de Lourdes Melo Zurita point out that the Great Artesian Basin is not an endless supply of fresh water and to treat it as such is dangerous.

Taylor & Francis Online, 11 February 2016:

Excerpt from Society & Natural ResourcesAn International Journal  Volume 29, 2016 - Issue 6: Thinking Relationships Through Water

With regard to the process of extracting gas and subterranean water, a commonality in the submissions of CSG companies and state governments is the simplification of the GAB. It is constructed as a large, well-understood, and unproblematic body of underground water:

[The GAB is] equivalent to approximately 22% of Australia’s land mass. Compared to the total storage capacity of the GAB, the amount of water projected to be extracted during CSG production is very small … the annual water extraction is likely to be less than 0.0002% of total storage. This is the equivalent of taking approximately 5 litres out of an Olympic sized swimming pool. (Australia Pacific LNG 2011, The Senate Inquiry, Submission 368).

Water, in such submissions, is a simplified and abstracted object of nature to be represented solely in terms of volumes and percentages. It is exemplar of Jamie Linton’s (2014 Linton, J. 2014. Modern water and its discontents: A history of hydrosocial renewal. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Water1 (1):111–20. doi:10.1002/wat2.1009 [CrossRef], [Google Scholar]) notion of “modern water’” a particular way of knowing and relating to water abstracted from its local, social, cultural, religious, and ecological contexts. The anxiety-riddled relationships between the arid region overlying the GAB and water resources are posited as insignificant to extractive practices. Such instrumental and rationalist simplification is part of discursive strategies to produce a view of subterranean water amenable to the (economic) growth of the modern state (Linton 2010 Linton, J. 2010. What is water? The history of a modern abstraction. Vancouver, BC, Canada: UBC Press. [Google Scholar]; 2014 Linton, J. 2014. Modern water and its discontents: A history of hydrosocial renewal. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Water1 (1):111–20. doi:10.1002/wat2.1009 [CrossRef], [Google Scholar]; Finewood and Stroup 2012 Finewood, M. H., and L. J. Stroup. 2012. Fracking and the neoliberalization of the hydro-social cycle in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale. Journal of Contemporary Water Research & Education 147 (1):72–79. doi:10.1111/j.1936-704x.2012.03104.x[CrossRef], [Google Scholar]). The final Senate Inquiry report, however, chided some CSG company submissions, noting that

[The GAB] is not a vast underground ‘sea’ in which levels and pressures quickly and uniformly adjust to the extraction of water from one part. Rather it is a highly complex system of geological formations at a range of depths, of variable permeability holding water of different quality, at different pressures and through which water flows at very different rates, if it flows at all. The reduction in pressure in a coal seam will result in a local fall in the water level and pressure in that particular area which may alter the rate and direction of the movement of groundwater in adjacent formations. The impact of this change may take many years to have a measurable impact on adjacent aquifers. Similarly the contingent loss of water from adjacent aquifers may not be made good by natural recharge for decades or even centuries. (RATRC 2011, 19)

Discursive attempts by CSG proponents to portray a simplified body of subterranean water thus sit uneasily alongside broader scientific narratives of the GAB. A critical scientific challenge, as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO, cited in RATRC 2011 Management of the Murray Darling Basin interim report: The impact of mining coal seam gas on the management of the Murray Darling Basin. Commonwealth of Australia 2011 Rural Affairs and Transport References Committee. (accessed February 8, 2016). , 19) notes, is “to visualize its exact structure.” While the GAB is no longer described as a source of “mystery water” (Powell 2011 Powell, O. C. 2011, Great Artesian Basin: Water from deeper down. In Queensland historical atlas: Histories, cultures, landscapes.(accessed February 8, 2016).), disparities point to continuing knowledge contests fuelled by the limitations of geological modeling technologies that aim to make “darkness visible” (Shortland 1994 Shortland, M. 1994. Darkness visible: Underground culture in the golden age of geology. History of Science 31 (1):1–61. doi:10.1177/007327539403200101 [CrossRef], [Google Scholar]).

Read the full article here.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Problems with tax collection from Australian resource and energy sector due to aggressive avoidance strategies


It would appear that successive federal and state governments have allowed the resource and energy sector to take Australia for everything except the gold fillings in its teeth……..

2 Office of the Chief Economist, Resources and Energy Quarterly, December 2016; Office of the Chief Economist, Resources and Energy Quarterly, December 2015; Office of the Chief Economist, Resources and Energy Quarterly, December 2014.
[Australian Taxation Office (ATO) 30 March 2017 submission to Senate Standing Committees on Economics, Inquiry into Corporate Tax Avoidance]

The Sydney Morning Herald, 29 April 2017:

Multinational gas companies will soon sell an annual $50 billion worth of Australian liquefied natural gas to foreign markets, but the nation will have to wait more than a decade for any revenue boost and some projects will never pay a cent in tax for the resources they extract.

A report prepared for the Turnbull government into the petroleum resource rent tax has confirmed fears, first revealed by Fairfax Media in 2015, that revenue from offshore gas will continue to flatline until at least 2027.

Despite that, Treasurer Scott Morrison insisted on Friday that Australians were not being shortchanged, but said the government would consider some changes to the system.

The review of the PRRT by former treasury official Mike Callaghan has acknowledged there are systemic problems and recommended changes to toughen the system for new LNG projects.

But, in a clear victory for the $200 billion industry, he shied away from urging any major changes for projects already past the investment stage, including Chevron's giant Gorgon and Wheatstone ventures and Shell's Prelude project.

The Callaghan report was released amid the political wrangling over east coast gas supply and on the same day the Senate inquiry into corporate tax avoidance grilled LNG bosses in Perth.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 26 April 2017:

Foreign-owned gas companies have legally avoided paying significant tax on billions in earnings from their Australian operations because of loopholes, according to a study. 

The loopholes have allowed the companies to write off interest payments for the borrowings of offshore subsidiaries, it has been claimed.

The study, by academic accountants at the University of Technology School of Accounting, and left-leaning campaign group GetUp, looked at the available balance sheet data of gas giants ExxonMobil and Chevron. It found the two companies have achieved colossal revenue flows from their Australian operations but paid little if anything in petroleum resource rent tax in recent years.

The practice is known as "debt loading" or "thin capitalisation".

Over the two years 2013-14 and 2014-15, Chevron earned more than $6.12 billion in revenue, but paid nothing in PRRT, according to the assessment.

It found ExxonMobil achieved revenue of almost three times that at $18.08 billion in the same period, but paid only $803.5 million.

The study concluded that between the operation of the company tax rules and the petroleum resource rent tax regime these enormous multinational resources companies can "load up" their balance sheets with excessive debt, thereby reducing taxable income to the point where the tax liability is low or non-existent.

The report, Investigation into the Petroleum Resource Rent Tax and Debt Loading in Australia – 2012 to 2016, found 95 per cent of oil and gas projects in Australia paid nothing in PRRT in 2014-15.

Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (Appea) Ltd, Submission to the Review of Commonwealth Petroleum Resource Taxes, February 2017: 

APPEA does not consider a case exists for any changes to be made to the existing PRRT provisions.

Oil and gas corporation Santos Limited currently seeking to establish coal seam gas fields in NSW stated in a 3 February 2017 written submission to the current Senate inquiry into tax avoidance:

Santos has participated in a number of offshore and onshore oil and gas projects during the period of operation of PRRT, from 1 July 1986 (see attachment). Based on our experience with petroleum projects in which Santos has an interest it is our view that PRRT has operated as intended and that therefore the existing design features are appropriate…..
The declining revenues are a function of changes to the industry and currant commodity prices rather than changes or faults in the original design of PRRT.

Santos Limited with a total income of $3.38 billion in 2014-15 declared it had no taxable income in that financial year. The previous financial year its tax liability was $3.14 million on a declared taxable income of $27.34 million out of a total income before tax of $4.35 billion.


BACKGROUND

The Australian, 25 August 2012:

SOME of Australia's biggest oil and gas players expect to pay little or no additional tax on their multi-billion-dollar onshore energy projects, putting federal government hopes of billions of dollars of additional revenue in doubt.

The admissions by Woodside Petroleum, Santos and Origin Energy indicate the government is unlikely to receive any significant additional funds in the foreseeable future from the expanded petroleum resources rent tax.

Parliament of Australia, Corporate Tax Avoidance:

On 2 October 2014 the Senate referred an inquiry into corporate tax avoidance to the Senate Economics References Committee for inquiry and report by the first sitting day in June 2015.

On 15 June 2015, the Senate granted an extension to the committee to report by 13 August 2015. On 12 August 2015, the Senate granted an extension to the committee to report by 30 November 2015. On 23 November 2015, the Committee was granted an extension to report by 26 February 2016. On 22 February 2016, the committee was granted an extension to report on 22 April 2016.

On 2 May 2016, the Senate granted the committee a further extension to report by 30 September 2016.  

The inquiry lapsed at the end of the 44th Parliament.

On 11 October 2016, the Senate agreed to the committee's recommendation that this inquiry be re-adopted in the 45th Parliament. The committee is to report by 30 September 2017……

On 1 December 2016, the committee resolved to broaden the scope of the inquiry to include Australia's offshore oil and gas industry.
The committee has asked to receive submissions on the treatment and/or payment of:
i. royalties;
ii. the Petroleum Resource Rent Tax (PRRT);
iii. deductions; and
iv. other taxes
by corporations involved in Australia's offshore oil and gas industry, including matters relating to the collection of these moneys by government.

University Of Technology Sydney, Ross McClure et al, Analysis of Tax Avoidance Strategies of Top Foreign Multinationals Operating in Australia: An Expose, 19 April 2016:

Multinational corporations are in a unique position to engage in tax aggressive strategies, as they are generally large in size and highly profitable, they exhibit low levels of debt in their capital structure, and have operations across national borders that generate foreign income streams. The overall group is made up of multiple entities across a number of tax jurisdictions and most multinational corporations have at least one subsidiary in a tax haven.

These characteristics have been associated with tax shelter activity in the U.S. (Wilson 2009) and with aggressive tax planning strategies such as abusive transfer pricing in Australia (Richardson et al. 2012). The information technology, pharmaceutical and energy sectors are both dominated by large multinational corporations and provide strong mechanisms that allow these corporations to divert profits away from where value and profits are created in order to reduce their tax liabilities.

News.com.au, 17 March 2017:

Gas on the east coast of Australia is controlled by a handful of companies and the lack of competition means they can charge higher prices locally.

At the moment, supply is controlled by six companies: Santos, Exxon, BHP, Origin, Arrow Energy and Shell. Some of these companies also control pipelines used to transport gas around the country, also adding to inflated prices……

He [energy analyst Bruce Robertson] said the global glut of gas, which is predicted to continue until 2030, has also put more pressure on companies to make money domestically.

The more they restrict supply locally, the more money they make.

It’s created the bizarre situation that sees Australian gas being sold in Japan for a wholesale price that is cheaper than the price it’s available for in Australia.

Santos, Shell and Origin Energy have to stick to long-term contracts they signed with Japan amid a global glut, but the lack of competition in Australia means they can restrict supply locally and drive up prices.

Australians are now paying a price higher than the international price for gas.

There’s even talk about Australia importing its own gas back because this would be cheaper.

Australia is also not profiting as much as we could from selling our gas overseas.

Japan reportedly puts a tax on the gas it imports from Australia, which will deliver it $2.9 billion over the next four years.

In comparison, Australia will not receive any money from its petroleum resource rent tax from gas projects over the same period. We get $0 in tax from selling our gas overseas.

Most of the $800 million we do get from the tax every year comes from established oil operations in the Bass Strait, rather than from LNG producers.