April 2, 2016
The Canning Basin, which underlies much of the Kimberley, is thought to have substantial oil and gas reserves.
Junior oil and gas company Buru Energy has extensive exploration permits in the Kimberley and is targeting tight gas. It operates in the Canning Superbasin on pastoral lands between Broome and Fitzroy Crossing. It has test fracked a number of wells and has undertaken seismic testing in the area. Buru’s partner is the Mitsubishi Corporation.
In 2015 the State Government gave approval for Buru to undertake 40 fracks across four wells including Yulleroo 3, Yulleroo 4, Valhalla and Asgard. As of March 2015 not all 40 fracks had been done. Mines Minister Bill Marmion said each frack would use approximately 3529 litres of chemicals, meaning more than 140,000 litres of chemicals would be tipped down the four wells.
Asgard 1, on the remote Aboriginal station of Noonkanbah 100km southwest of Fitzroy Crossing, was fracked by Buru in September 2015. Flow testing is ongoing.
Buru also fracked its Valhalla North 1 well in September 2015 and is also still testing the gas flow.
In July 2015 aluminum producer Alcoa terminated a $40M agreement to buy gas from Buru, throwing new doubt on the viability of the company’s plans to frack in the Kimberley. Buru has to repay Alcoa a $40M prepayment as a result of the termination of the deal.
Local opposition to fracking has included a long running protest camp 70km from Broome near an area known as the Jackeroo Turn Off. A member of the camp noticed detectable gas leaks at Buru’s Yulleroo 2 well in late 2014 and filmed the leak. He was prosecuted for trespass after the video was broadcast.
During his trail the court heard evidence that the Department of Environment and Conservation had passed on concerns about a gas leak at the well as far back as 2013, but the Department of Mining and Petroleum had done little to fix the problem.
Yulleroo 2, owned by Buru, was fracked in 2010 and since that date it appears that not much has been done to monitor or maintain the well.