Fracking under the microscope in NT

Posted 4 August 2017

FrackingEffective water management will be a crucial factor to achieve if prospective fracking is to go ahead in the Northern Territory, an independent panel has reported.

The interim report was handed down by the panel last month, after experts engaged with scientific data on gas extraction practices and potential consequences. 

While the report lists numerous factors that will need to be managed effectively if fracking is to be warranted, it states that water management is a primary concern. 

"Effective water management will be crucial to the development of any unconventional onshore shale gas industry in the Northern Territory," the report states.

“This involves two critical aspects: first, sustainable water use from surface and groundwater sources; and second, maintaining acceptable quality of groundwaters (aquifers) and surface waters (for example, rivers, streams and wetlands).”

While the panel engaged with information from the Beetaloo Sub-basin as a case study for the report, the panel has expressed the need for further information before risks can be fully assessed. 

“Where appropriate, for some of the water-related issues identified, the panel has expressed a preliminary view of the likelihood of, and the consequences if, that issue occurred,” the report states.

“In most cases, however, the panel’s interim opinion is that more information is required before the risks and any possible mitigation options can be fully assessed.”

The report also listed concerns relating to biodiversity protection, Aboriginal ownership and the effect the controversial extraction practice may have on the broader community, and has called for the NT government to establish a regulatory framework if fracking is to occur. 

"It's the principal way in which the Northern Territory Government can ensure that the development of any onshore unconventional shale gas industry is consistent with the principles of ecologically sustainable development," the report states.

Read the full interim report here.