Australian Green Front Cracks: Northern Territory Lifts Fracking Ban

Australian Northern Territory
Australian Northern Territory. By TUBS Own workThis vector graphics image was created with Adobe Illustrator.This file was uploaded with Commonist.This vector image includes elements that have been taken or adapted from this:  Australia location map.svg ( by NordNordWest)., CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

The left wing Australian Northern Territory Labor government has shocked greens, breaking ranks with other left wing Australian state governments by lifting a ban on gas fracking.

Northern Territory lifts fracking ban, opening up 700,000 sq km to gas exploration

Staff and agencies

Tue 17 Apr 2018 10.24 AEST

First exploration fracking expected next year but national parks and conservation areas will be protected

The Northern Territory government has lifted a ban on hydraulic fracturing of onshore gas that will open up more than half of the territory’s land mass to the controversial practice.

The first exploration fracking by petroleum companies is expected to occur early next year after the implementation of a regulatory regime and new laws, which the government insists will be strict.

The issue has sharply divided territorians, many of whom believe fracking threatens water supplies, but the chief minister, Michael Gunner, said on Tuesday the industry would create jobs.

An independent report handed down by Justice Rachel Pepper last month found the risks associated with hydraulic fracturing of gas deposits could be managed and regulated.

Environmental groups and scientists have pressed the Labor government to keep the fracking moratorium it introduced, arguing it would adversely affect water, land and public health. The federal government has urged the NT government to allow the economic exploitation of its gas resources.

Naomi Hogan of Lock the Gate said the government’s decision was “shameful” and the result of “bullying” from the gas industry and federal government.

This is a slap in the face for all of the Territorians who have stood up and opposed fracking to protect their livelihoods in tourism, agriculture, pastoralism and fishing,” she said.

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What a shocker – socialists putting fiscal sanity and the interests of workers and poor people ahead of appeasing rich urban greens.

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April 17, 2018 9:19 pm

For once, a little bit of sanity and common sense in the Oz political scene.

Warren Blair
Reply to  Steve
April 17, 2018 11:57 pm

No not sanity or common sense!
Just hypocritical left-wing expediency.

Reply to  Warren Blair
April 18, 2018 9:22 am

“expediency” AKA sanity or common sense!

Serge Wright
Reply to  Steve
April 18, 2018 2:34 am

This is being driven due to the forecast of plunging government revenues and rising debt from 2019.
It appears that the need to fund the “buying of votes” overrides ideology.

Stuart Huggett
April 17, 2018 9:28 pm

Is ‘a slap in the face for all of the Territorians who have stood up and opposed fracking’ considered to a BAD thing? I would have thought it to be thoroughly deserved…

Reply to  Stuart Huggett
April 18, 2018 2:20 am

Unfortunately a lot of “Territorians” – so-called are ring ins from “down south ” , who have moved up there in the last 20 odd years. The place has lost its frontier feel. Ruined by effête ponces.

Robert of Ottawa
Reply to  GlenM
April 18, 2018 3:56 am

Fortunately there is still plenty of outback in the Top End.

Patrick MJD
April 17, 2018 9:34 pm

Don’t be so sure, this is Australia. This project could be held up in greentape and the courts for years.

April 17, 2018 9:44 pm

It should be obvious that htere are no significant dangers to groundwater, fishing(!!) and that opposition to fracking is based on the fact that it produces a fossil fuel. After al of the investigations about fracking, the negatives just are not there, but that doesn’t seem to affect the greenies. The greenies are simply liars.

Reply to  arthur4563
April 17, 2018 9:58 pm

How it’s done
Fracturing has been going on in western Canada for over 70 years and NOT ONCE has Fracturing contaminated the water table. It’s done way below any water table. There have been very few instances that an improperly done cement job, on the surface casing, has caused some contamination of a water table with “get this” mud… that is literally made with a crushed up rock call Bentonite. But this is NOT as a result of Hydraulic Fracturing. Please don’t fall for the propaganda without doing some homework…

Philip Mulholland
Reply to  Bradley Holdner
April 18, 2018 4:16 am

This example diagram for a UK resource shows the real scale of the underground process.

Ian Macdonald
Reply to  arthur4563
April 17, 2018 11:34 pm

The reason the greens are in a panic over it, is that it actually reduces CO2 emissions compared to coal or oil. Which their kit has so far failed to achieve.

Reply to  arthur4563
April 18, 2018 6:57 pm

Greenies never met a successful economic policy they liked. The rule is simple: If a policy creates prosperity and freedom it must be bad.

Nick Stokes
April 17, 2018 9:55 pm

“What a shocker”
Hardly. When the new government came in (2016), it established an inquiry into the safety of fracking. It set a moratorium on fracking development until the inquiry reported (what else should they do?). When the report was favorable, the moratorium ended.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 18, 2018 1:37 am

Are you that naive?
A moratorium starts when you DONT have evidence of bad effect (when you have, you just suppress the thing by ban, regulation, tax or whatever), and it is very rare to see it ended just because yet another report of yet another finding no bad effect.
So this is a shocker indeed.

Nick Stokes
Reply to  paqyfelyc
April 18, 2018 1:43 am

“it is very rare to see it ended just because yet another report”
Follow the link. They announced the moratorium at the same time as they announced the inquiry, and specifically said it would be reviewed subject to outcome. And it was.
“This moratorium will remain in place until government has considered the outcomes of a comprehensive independent scientific Inquiry (the Inquiry) into the social and environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing.”

Reply to  paqyfelyc
April 18, 2018 7:01 am

social impacts?????

Reply to  paqyfelyc
April 18, 2018 11:11 am

uh… WHAT? you have politician who actually act as he announced he would (instead of finding some excuse to act with complete disregard to previous pledge. Like, say, ask for another inquiry while prolonging the moratorium, or whatever), and you find it a non shocker? In what strange universe do you live? You are not human for sure.

Reply to  paqyfelyc
April 18, 2018 1:09 pm

I agree with Nick on this one. If you don’t know do you proceed and trust companies with a vested interest in the outcome or do some research first. The real shocker for me is that it only took them 2 years! What type of bureaucracy is that? I could have milked this one for at least 5 🙂
Still it is nice to see some progress down under to recognise the value of base load fuels that can go 24x7x365.

Reply to  Nick Stokes
April 18, 2018 11:34 am

Just look at pipelines in Canada, full environmental assessments complete and approved. Government didn’t like the answer so they changed the rules. So yes, shocking that they actually followed the original rules.

J Mac
April 17, 2018 10:06 pm

Drill, Baby! Drill!!
Then frack ’em like you mean it.
As for that ‘slap in the face to all Territorians’, think of it as a long overdue wake up call. It’s past time to set childish irrational fears aside and accept adult responsibilities for providing reliable, abundant, and low cost energy for your families and communities.

dodgy geezer
April 17, 2018 10:16 pm

…What a shocker – socialists putting fiscal sanity and the interests of workers and poor people ahead of appeasing rich urban greens….
What a shocker – politicians putting fiscal sanity and the interests of voters ahead of appeasing rich donors and lobbyists.
There. Made that more general for you.
I suspect that the reason is the same as always – there’s an election coming up…

April 17, 2018 10:28 pm

“shameful … bullying … slap in the face …”
Well we now all know Naughty Naomi’s secret fantasies.

Reply to  Max Photon
April 18, 2018 2:04 pm

Some of them?

April 17, 2018 10:28 pm

Fracking started in 1862. Durng the battle of Fredericksburg Virginia, civil war veteran Colonel. Edward A.L. Roberts fired explosive artillery into a narrow canal that obstructed the battlefield. The result was described as superincumbent fluid tamping. commercial fracking grew from this event. One of the biggest myths of fracking is that it is new technology. Modern-day fracking began in the 1990s. George P. Mitchell created a new technique, which took hydraulic fracturing, and combined it with horizontal drilling.
So far in 155 years of fracking, there has never been one documented case of groundwater contamination as a result of fracking. The same cannot be said of snakes which roam freely and molest humans.

Reply to  ntesdorf
April 18, 2018 1:22 pm

Interesting tidbit!
Thank you.
I assume that is the canal fed by a wing dam slightly upriver from where the troops crossed the river.
Just south of where the Route 95 Bridge crosses the Rappahannock.
Colonel Edward A.L. Roberts is sufficient description; veteran status comes after the war ends or discharge from the army. Discharge in this case occurred within months after Lt. Colonel Roberts heroically participated in the Federal Corp’s disastrous river and canal crossings.
Here is a pic of the good Colonel:comment image
Sourced from a rather excellent description at; “Salient Points” blog

“Roberts was a lieutenant colonel in the 28th New Jersey Volunteer Infantry Regiment where he served under Colonel Moses N. Wisewell. The 28th was was part of Brigadier General Nathan Kimball’s 1st Brigade or “Gibraltar Brigade.” Kimball’s brigade was in Brigadier General William H. French’s Third Division in Major General Darius H. Couch’s II Corp. This corps was part of the Right Grand Division under Major General Edwin Vose Sumner in Major General Ambrose Burnside’s Army of the Potomac.
Roberts had been court-martialed for “intoxication on dress parade” in November and was waiting for the results from the military court. Roberts’ regiment marched into Fredericksburg, Virginia.
Battle of Fredericksburg
On December 13, 1862, General Burnside’s ordered General Sumner to send “a division or more” to seize the high ground to the west of Fredericksburg. Burnside believed his assault on the southern end of the Confederate line would be the decisive action of the battle. On the northern end of the battlefield, General French’s Third Division prepared to move forward under Confederate artillery fire. Fredericksburg was covered in fog.
The fog lifted at 10:00 a.m., and Sumner ordered the advance around 11:00 a.m. The avenue of approach was difficult with most of it over open fields, with houses, fences, and gardens that would restrict the movement of battle lines. A canal stood about 200 yards west of the town, crossed by three narrow bridges, which would require the Union troops to funnel themselves into columns before proceeding. About 600 yards to the west of Fredericksburg was the low ridge known as Marye’s Heights, rising 40–50 feet above the plain. They advanced slowly through heavy artillery fire, crossed the canal in columns over the narrow bridges, and formed in line, with fixed bayonets, behind the protection of a shallow bluff. In perfect line of battle, they advanced up the muddy slope until they were cut down at about 125 yards from the stone wall by repeated rifle volleys.
When his commander was shot in the face during the 28th’s charge, Roberts assumed command. In his after action report, Roberts wrote, “We went into action under a most galling and deadly fire of shot and shell, and continued in action until near dark. Officers and men conducted themselves well.”
A month later, Roberts’ court martial verdict was published under General Order No. 2. Despite his heroic actions during the battle, among the Civil War’s bloodiest, he was found guilty and ordered to be cashiered, effective January 12, 1863. Prior to the court’s verdict, Roberts had attempted to resign but this was strangely characterized as “tendering resignation in face of enemy.”
Roberts’ service as a Union officer was finished. However, he would soon make history in Pennsylvania oilfields. During the bombardment at Fredericksburg, Roberts noticed that shells falling in the canal transferred the force of their underwater explosions sideways. Oilmen knew that oil was “locked” under pressure in deep rock formations. If those rocks could be broken up, more of the resource could be released. Roberts transformed his observation into what he described as “superincumbent fluid tamping.” He received the first of his many patents for an “Improvement in Exploding Torpedoes in Artesian Wells” on April 25, 1865.
The torpedo or bomb was lowered down the well to a desired depth. The torpedo contained from fifteen to twenty pounds of gunpowder (later nitroglycerin). The borehole was filled with water which provided the “fluid tamping” to concentrate the concussion and more efficiently fracture surrounding oil strata.
Roberts revolutionary oilfield invention greatly increased production of America’s early petroleum industry and hydraulic fracturing technology was born.”

comment image
Lt. Colonel Roberts would’ve been in Brig. General French’s line the first to advance on the sunken wall.comment image

Reply to  ATheoK
April 18, 2018 2:39 pm

ATheoK … Thanks. I was living in Fredericksburg in 2014 and going to school at the Dahlgren Naval Base. This site is adjacent the current township and a visiting such sites (Spotsylvania) was a great way to ‘get a feel’ for the history of the area. The Fredericksburg battle was, by all accounts, quite bloody. Colonel Roberts was involved in two significant events (Civil War and the discovery of fracturing) to allow the US to get where it is today. Sadly this point appears to be lost on the Leftist horde.
Andy (Aussie)

Reply to  ATheoK
April 18, 2018 6:52 pm

Then we are less for your return to Australia.
I currently am local to Fredericksburg too. While my property was not directly involved in any battle. it was occupied and critical to one of the river’s unused crossing points during other battles.
The Federals occupied this position and there are two artillery emplacements overlooking the hill from the river crossing.
Attacking soldiers would have to climb a severely steep hill where two even length legs are major disadvantages, then cross a small open area.
Standing in the emplacements and sighting down where the cannon barrels would be, make it clear that grape shot would be used and fired just about groin level on the advancing soldiers.
Bloody? Definitely. Both of the Fredericksburg and Chancellor battles were conducted in more civilized manner than later battles; Wilderness and Bloody Angle. Before taking into account weaponry advancements over the course of the war.
Visiting some of the Civil War’s other battle sites show similar examples of incredible bravery bloody battles.
One would think that after the Civil War proved massed troops walking forward are massive wastes of manpower; but WWI demonstrated that thought wrong, entirely.
Hopefully, you got to see other sites, and the Smithsonian while you were here, and perhaps did some fishing. Our fishing is probably not as exciting since we don’t have man eating crocodiles plus our snakes are mild compared to Australia’s.

April 17, 2018 10:29 pm

Health warning!!! A serious outbreak of a rare disease called “Commonsense” has been detected among the political population in the Northern Territory. Green voters should protect themselves by avoiding thinking or talking about contentious subjects such as Energy, Fracking, Onshore Gas and related topics for at least the next 6 months, or until public alarm has subsided.

April 17, 2018 10:39 pm

There was movement at the station WHEN the BRAINS were passed around——–<:o)

Phillip Bratby
April 17, 2018 10:53 pm

The anti-fracking loonies are alive and well in the UK. “The Truth Behind Frack Off”.

Reply to  Phillip Bratby
April 17, 2018 11:59 pm

And Joe Public’s diagram providing a proper perspective on fracking (1mm sand filled cracks created, 3km underground) is enlightening. Not great rents in the fabric of the planet as the loony greens would have us believe.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  HotScot
April 18, 2018 12:19 am

Interesting one of the first comments about getting CO2 back to 350ppm/v. Crazy!

Reply to  HotScot
April 18, 2018 1:56 am

Patrick MJD
Only 200ppm away from human extinction rather than the current 250ppmm away from it.
I’d rather we were around 1,000ppm or so. A little wriggle room.

Reply to  HotScot
April 18, 2018 11:06 am

I’m with you, HotScot. We’re dangerously near the CO2 minimum. It is not a problem fixed as easily as turning on an air conditioner or furnace.
Always amazes me when I ask a CAGWer if they have a theory why greenhouses pump CO2 INTO the greenhouse. Many don’t know that it occurs. The rest have no idea why.

Reply to  kaliforniakook
April 18, 2018 2:44 pm

I heard an article on BBC Radio 2 today when a scientist wrote a book comparing us all, including activists, to less than monkeys in our perception of the world today.
One question was, what is the state of global poverty relative to 50 year ago: a) better b) worse c) the same.
Virtually all answered b).
His point was to illustrate that most people are victims of popular illusion, largely driven by an ignorant media. And that monkeys got the question right 30% of the time.
No monkeys on WUWT, well, other than a select few.

Reply to  HotScot
April 18, 2018 6:59 pm

Taking a map measuring tool and measuring distances from fracking sites to their allegedly caused earthquakes is another eyeopener.
Anti-frackers depend upon ignorance and belief for their fantasies.

Lewis P Buckingham
April 18, 2018 12:13 am

The issues were different in the NT.
The fracking is for gas from shale , without encroaching on the Great Artesian Basin or other aquifiers.
Alice Springs has been using gas for years.
The new pipeline is at Tennant Creek, 500 km north of Alice.
Its notable that the decision to build our armored personnel carriers in Queensland was based on a secure, cheaper power supply.
Perhaps we Aussies won’t have to import gas from the Russians or USA to get it cheap.

ivor ward
April 18, 2018 2:56 am

What the frac is “pastoralism” ?

Reply to  ivor ward
April 18, 2018 9:30 am

Very large scale beef cattle grazing. The Pastoral Station, needs to be about the size of Rhode Island for it to make economic sense.

NW sage
Reply to  ivor ward
April 18, 2018 7:13 pm

I had the same question – I thought it was some kind of a new religion.
But, as above it is nothing more than what the cowboys in the midwest did in the middle-late 1800s. Think the TV show Ponderosa!

Geoff Sherrington
April 18, 2018 2:57 am

From roughly 1985 to 1992 I was President or Vice Pres of the Northern Territory Chamber of Mines. During my term, we added “and Energy” to the title, recognising several positive attributes that the NT held in respect of fossil fuels. The topic of fracking was just starting to be discussed when my term ended. However, those several positives remain for the NT to export new fossil fuels such as gas to energy-starved countries such as India, because of favourable geography. Domestic markets are less a feature because the capital, Darwin, and the other large city, Alice Springs, are each a long pipeline from major Australian population centres.
The NT is not a fully-fledged State, so it retains a lot of interference from the Federal bureaucracy. Indeed, in my term, coping with distant bureaucrats was the most time-consuming action and often the least successful one. The mindsets of leaders in Canberra and Darwin are as far apart as one could invent. Sadly, that will continue as a major impediment that has in the past seen severe financial and planning detriment over secondary matters such as aboriginal land rights and world heritage areas.
My admiration, irrespective of political leaning, goes to those leaders up there now who have commenced to institute the common-sense use of fracking. Geoff

Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
April 18, 2018 6:02 am

The Chinese have a thousands of years old saying – “The mountains are high and the emperor is far away.” Do what you need to do for your local people and don’t worry about the distant bureaucrats.

Reply to  markopanama
April 18, 2018 11:18 am

Billions of people wish they could stop worrying about distant bureaucrats. And lawyers. Somehow they cannot.

Hector Pascal
April 18, 2018 3:27 am

What the frac is “pastoralism” ?

Pastoralism is broad acre farming by grazing. The land is semi-desert and isn’t fit for cropping. Instead pastoralists have huge leases to run sheep and cattle at very low densities.

ivor ward
April 18, 2018 5:25 am

Thanks, Hector.

michael hart
April 18, 2018 5:43 am

Yes, it sounds like a bit of good news.

“…the risks associated with hydraulic fracturing of gas deposits could be managed and regulated”

Something which has indeed been public knowledge for decades, at least for those who wish to know.
So many greens bureaucrats, and politicians love managing and regulating things. Yet they suddenly shy away from it when it is managing and regulating something that actually works, but something that comes under their category of being politically verboten for ideological reasons.

April 18, 2018 5:54 am

1.4 Million square kilometres, about the area of the UK, France and Germany with 250,000 population on the roadside strip development along the one road from Darwin South to civiiisation.
There’s nobody there to even worry about, not much of anything else apart from natural resources to extract and few very unproductive per acre cattle ranches. Get fracking! If we can do this under the oceans where problems are far harder to fix, on land is a doddle.

Tom Gelsthorpe
April 18, 2018 5:55 am

Greenies are touting a secular version of restoring the Garden of Eden. The original, Biblical Eden was a metaphor for a world in which mankind lived without sin. So far as I know, even Biblical literalists don’t think a world without sin is feasible; they just want us to think about it, and sin less often.
Greenies have transmogrified that notion into very specific recommendations for eschewing enviro-sins, and ushering in the allegedly “sustainable” New Age Paradise: organic, free-range chicken vs. chicken-house chicken, “biomass” vs. fossil fuels, paper grocery bags vs. plastic, and on and on. They hate nuclear power more than hate coal, even though nukes are safer, cleaner, smaller footprint, etc.
Hardly any of the greenies’ programs make sense, but they’re not supposed to. They’re about signaling moral superiority. “My people are better than your people. Our highbrow stuff is vastly more moral than your crummy redneck stuff — our veggie burgers, our light bulbs, our moccasins, our rumpled sweaters, our cars, our politics, our reading lists, our. . . ”
Walk around a contemporary college town like Cambridge, MA, and the Neo-Puritan conformity hangs so thick in the air you can taste it.

Reply to  Tom Gelsthorpe
April 18, 2018 8:35 am
Reply to  Tom Gelsthorpe
April 18, 2018 11:26 am

the world is full of christian ideas run amok. Socialism is another. The difference is, socialism want to make Eden in real Earth in the future, while greenies want to roll it backward, to the “good old time”, before industrial revolution. And these reactionaries call themselves “progressives”. Funny

Reply to  Tom Gelsthorpe
April 19, 2018 2:49 am

…..And there were no free lunches even in The Garden of Eden…..Just an abundance of nature’s resources from which, with effort, lunch could be provided. But the rule was still the same rule: If you are going to eat then first someone must produce. And, in reality, governments have never been real producers….Just crime syndicates who have been able to act as objects of delusion.

April 18, 2018 6:59 am

Just because a bunch of morons oppose something, doesn’t make it controversial.
No matter what it is, you can find a moron to oppose it.

April 18, 2018 7:09 am

Who knew that sand and pressurized water would be so controversial? Just don’t inject waste water from fracking into faults zones and areas of known seismic activity.

Reply to  ResourceGuy
April 18, 2018 7:12 am

In CA the experimented with injecting water into faults under the theory that if they could trigger hundreds of small earthquakes instead of one big one, that would be a good thing. (Remember, no earthquakes is not an option. The earth is moving and it will release eventually)
What they found is that, it doesn’t work.

Ted O'Brien.
April 18, 2018 7:20 am

The Northern Territory, that red area on the map above, has a total population of about 250,000, half of those in Darwin.
As Geoff Sherrington tells us here, it does not have the same rights as states do, so it will be very interesting to watch what happens next.
The recent history of Northern Territory government is also interesting. The previous government was thrown out of office in an election a week or so after our national public broadcaster the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, which is a Marxist enclave, ran a grossly dishonest TV program about treatment of kids in custody.
It is very interesting that we should now be seeing something that could be sensible coming out of this. I won’t be believing it till I see the gas.

Bob Hoye
April 18, 2018 8:00 am

Yes, it’s best to relieve the strains through many small jiggles rather than with one huge displacement.
Bob Hoye

Christopher Chantrill
April 18, 2018 8:56 am

When you think about it, fracking is another proof of God’s existence. Yay Fracking!

April 18, 2018 9:35 am

If this happens, and I hope it does, it will provide good paying jobs to people in regional NT. A lot of these people are aborigines, and they currently live in settlements that could be better described as slums!

Reply to  James
April 19, 2018 4:41 am

be real, there’ll be bugger all jobs for anyone local apart from the site setting up and installing
it will be as always some OS corp running the show and if gas gets to any aussies from it it would surprise me greatly
same as all the rest it will go OS dirt cheap and any sold to aussies will be at insane prices.
it wont do us much good, and even getting royalties n taxes paid always seems to be a battle.
as for the aboriginals camps..well theres been megamil handed out for decades and little improvement shows.
give em homes health care education all you like, it doesnt work.
worse again is SA new premier raving about getting google to move to adelaide..
looking at what happens at home in usa around their biz and staff thats another whacko idea

April 18, 2018 9:47 am

“…the result of “bullying” from the gas industry and federal government.”
Bad: being bullied by the gas industry and federal government.
Good: being bullied by Environmental Groups.

Jeff L
Reply to  Ricdre
April 18, 2018 10:26 am

Beat me to the same thought . Ditto^2

April 18, 2018 11:39 am

The environmental impact from fracking is much, much, much less than wind and solar which I assume are her preferred alternatives. She just sounds stupid. The other option is that she is OK with oil and gas, she just wants someone else to get the impact in which case she’s a hypocrite. (as well as stupid)

April 18, 2018 1:25 pm

If they’re going to allow fracking, now might be a good idea to establish companies to sell Natural Gas electricity generation units along with natural gas furnaces and A/C equipment.
There are a few other Australia areas that might need them, soon.

April 19, 2018 6:36 am

The vocal minority against fracking in the Northern Territory, & in other states of Australia, are against fracking purely on green ideological grounds. For them, it’s all about ‘climate change’ & saving the world from CO2 emissions. They’re utterly delusional.

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