Pressure continues to build for more fracking of coal seam gas in NSW in the wake of a gas shortage, despite significant opposition.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull this week put State and Territory governments under fire for their inability to conserve gas resources.
Gas prices continue to soar in Australia due to the potential gas shortage being three times higher than expected, according to Mr. Turnbull.
“The shortfall of gas in the east coast domestic market will be considerably higher than that estimated six months ago…its estimated there will be a shortfall of 110 petajoules of gas, more than three times the figure that we were advised,” Mr. Turnball said.
At a meeting on Wednesday, the major gas producers – Santos, Shell and Origin Energy – said they could meet the immediate shortfall in gas supply but they wanted to be paid a fair price.
“Grappling with this issue from the beginning of the year as you know, we set out a plan where we would impose, if necessary, export controls on gas from the east coast,” Mr Turnbull said earlier this week.
According to the Central Intelligence Agency, Australia is ranked the 14th highest exporter of gas in the world, exporting 31,610,000,000 cubic meters of natural gas resources in 2014.
It’s a cheap trick... to cover up government incompetence in energy policy
Despite steady mining of gas resources, high export demand has forced Australians to pay top dollar.
However, George Woods, from anti coal seam gas group Lock the Gate Alliance, points to the Federal Government's lack of action in managing the exportation of gas resources.
Ms Woods believes that “new gas fields in Victoria and New South Wales is not going to solve any of the old problems that they have identified".
Instead, she speculates that “what we are dealing with here is greed by the gas companies who are operating as a cartel and a weak government who hasn't been able to muster the leadership to ensure our gas is available to the Australian government".
Suggested methods of fracking for coal seam gas could see farmers and urban residents lose land for mining sites amid claims there is high-risk potential for contamination of water tables.
This fracking of coal seam gas as a solution has faced a backlash from many sections of the community.
Ms Woods said the Federal Government's latest posturing was unfair.
“It’s a cheap trick to put farming communities in NSW in the crosshairs of coal seam gas development to cover up government incompetence in energy policy.”
Letitia Kemister is a grassroots activist for Southern First Nations against Irresponsible Use of our Land.
Ms Kemister said the Federal Government should reduce the amount that is being exported to cater to the local market.
“It makes me angry and frustrated," she said.
“Coal seam gas was proven to be unsafe in its current format. The American and Queensland experiences have been horrific.
“In a country like Australia, to frack through the great artisan basin is just criminal. That's two-thirds of our water supply…to mix that with salt and 600 different chemicals and pour it back onto the land is a criminal response.”
Shadow Minister for Industry, Resources and Energy, Adam Searle also blamed the NSW Government for not imposing a reservation policy that would restrict the exportation of gas resources from NSW.
“The reality is that the only way to keep gas prices affordable in NSW is to reserve a supply of gas for domestic consumption before allowing export,” Mr. Searle said.
Mr Turnbull further indicated the need for more mining sites on the east coast, revealing a prospective amount of more than 200,000 petajoules of available gas resources.