Activists in Waitsia misfire

GREEN groups are calling for Alinta Energy to axe a deal with AWE for gas from the Waitsia field in the Perth Basin over the use of hydraulic fracturing to develop the field, but there is one small problem: Waitsia does not require fraccing.
Activists in Waitsia misfire Activists in Waitsia misfire Activists in Waitsia misfire Activists in Waitsia misfire Activists in Waitsia misfire

Activists groups Frack Free WA and the Conservation Council of WA are calling for Alinta to tear up a contract to buy up to 10 terajoules per day from owners AWE and Origin Energy from what The West Australian newspaper called "one of the state's first planned onshore gas projects".

Ignoring the decades of gas production from fields such as Dongara, which was vital to the state's economy prior to the development of the North West Shelf gas fields, Waitsia was a new discovery from the deep, conventional Kingia Sandstone, more than 3000m below the ground.

The gas roars up from the virgin reservoir at more than 50 million cubic feet per day, and does not need stimulation.

But the green groups have sensed weakness as Alinta's private equity owners, TPG, look at re-floating Alinta, or at least part of its.

The CCWA said the gas and electricity provider was "vulnerable", and activists could use people power to apply pressure.

The environmental group claimed Waitsia would be the first major commercial scale project to fraccing, and that Alinta was supporting a development in a region where 98% of survey respondents do not want fraccing.

"With the Irwin community standing united in opposition to AWE's fracking plans, it is clear that the company does not have a social license to operate," CCWA director Piers Verstegen said.

"As Western Australia's main gas retailer, Alinta should steer well clear of such projects.

"Farmers are doing everything they can to defend their properties and our water supply from gas fraccing plans, but they need gas consumers in the city to take a stand with them."

However, while fraccing of fields has been successfully undertaken in the Perth Basin for decades, and there are a number of tight gas fields in the immediate area of Waitsia that do require stimulation, including the overlying Senecio field, fraccing is not needed at Waitsia.

AWE has previously successfully fracced a number of deep wells in the basin from formations deep below the water table.

A spokesperson for AWE confirmed to Energy News this morning that Waitsia did not require fraccing.

Given the sheer size of Waitsia, the largest new onshore conventional gas discovery in WA for decades, it seems unlikely that the resource owners would even need to frac the overlying Senecio field for at least a decade or more.

A spokesperson for Alinta said it sourced its gas from companies that complied with the law.

CCWA has been contacted for comment, but had not returned calls when Energy News published this morning.