The South Australian Parliament has rejected a private member Bill from Mark Parnell, The Petroleum and Geothermal Energy (Hydraulic Fracturing) Amendment Bill 2014 (SA), which had sought to amend the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act 2000 No. 60 (SA) by imposing a two year state-wide moratorium on hydraulic fracture stimulation for gas. At the end of the two year period hydraulic fracture stimulation was to be banned on farmland and other ‘designated zones’, including conservation land and residential land.
Instead, it has been proposed that a parliamentary enquiry be undertaken into the potential risks and impacts arising from hydraulic fracture stimulation in the South East of South Australia, including the risks of groundwater contamination, impacts on landscape and the effectiveness of the existing legislation and regulation of hydraulic fracture stimulation.
While the avoidance of a State-wide moratorium will no doubt be welcomed by many, the additional costs and uncertainty associated with such a Parliamentary enquiry (if approved by Parliament) may cause further frustration for the oil and gas industry, given the extensive enquiries that have recently been undertaken by other states and peak bodies and the increasing expectation of the extensive gas shortages expected to be faced on the East Coast of Australia.