What a man, eh? Obviously we need more of them …
-sure he’s about making money but …
-he sees the big picture
-he recognises there is a lot at stake
-the gas extraction industry doesn’t have a faultless past
LET’s hope he wins!
BILLIONAIRE BUSINESSMAN … launches legal action to keep ORIGIN ENERGY fracking off NT cattle station
A billionaire businessman has launched court action against Origin Energy over its plan for gas exploration on a Northern Territory cattle station.
- Retail magnate Brett Blundy and his business partners are alleging Origin Energy failed to carry out adequate stakeholder engagement
- Amungee Mungee station owners are seeking to halt government approval processes
- Origin Energy says it wants to work constructively with station owners
Retail magnate Brett Blundy’s company BB Retail Capital and co-owners Bullwaddy Pastoral Co are accusing the gas company of not properly consulting them about the environmental risks associated with the planned “test fracking” operation.
They’re seeking to stop the NT Government from approving test fracking on part of the station, in the first case of its kind for the Territory.
Mr Blundy has invested millions of dollars into buying and developing several NT stationsincluding Amungee Mungee, near Daly Waters, 600 kilometres south of Darwin.
In 2013, he invested $6.5 million for the 320,000-hectare station. He also owns two other nearby cattle stations, OT Downs and Mungabroom.
The station hosted Origin Energy’s first test well in 2016.
That generated the gas industry’s excitement about the Beetaloo Basin region, and predictions the area contains enough gas to power Australia for 200 years.
But since the Territory Labor Government’s three-year moratorium on fracking was lifted in April, the relationship has soured.
Inadequate response time alleged
BB Retail Capital and Bullwaddy Pastoral Co, owned by Katherine pastoralists Adrian and Emma Brown, are trying to force Origin Energy to admit it hasn’t properly carried out legally required stakeholder engagement.
The station owners have alleged the gas company didn’t give them time to respond to the anticipated environmental risks of fracking.
In launching the Supreme Court action, they are also seeking to prevent the Territory Government considering or approving Origin’s test fracking plan.
Origin Energy has told the ABC it has been discussing its plans for work on Amungee station for almost 12 months.
“Origin previously reached agreement to access the same property, for similar activities, and had no issues either in reaching an agreement or in the execution of our work,” the company said.
“Our desire is always to work constructively to finalise an agreement about access to the property.”
‘Sign of things to come’: Antifracking group
Lauren Mellor from the anti-fracking group Protect Country Alliance said she was not surprised the case had been launched a few weeks after the Government finalised its fracking Code of Practice, effectively giving the green light for exploration to resume.
“I think this is a sign of things to come,” she said.
“It’s really concerning that it’s happening within weeks of the approval of the first fracking wells.”
The NT Cattlemen’s Association said many pastoralists were becoming concerned.
“They’re being asked to grant access for a whole series of regulated activities without knowing the full detail of the environmental impacts,” NT Cattlemen’s Association CEO Ashley Manicaros said.
He said cattle producers wanted clarity on how gas companies planned to prevent a whole range of potential impacts.
“There is biosecurity associated to weeds. There are also impacts on infrastructure, and also the issue of what water they will use,” Mr Manicaros said.
The Cattlemen’s Association is calling on the NT Government to immediately pass laws it promised which would force gas companies to sign access agreements with pastoralists.
“They want to actually see that in place so they can actually negotiate with some level of certainty,” he said.
Territory Government refuses to comment
The Territory Government would not comment on the Amungee Mungee case.
But it has responded to the concerns of the region’s cattlemen by saying it would pass land access agreement laws by the end of the year.
“Our Government has made it very clear to the gas industry that they must earn their social licence to operate in the Territory,” a spokesman for Environment Minister Eva Lawler said.
“All gas companies who seek to explore in the Territory must demonstrate compliance with the existing regulations in relation to stakeholder engagement.”