Santos gives up two NT gas licences as fracking insurance risks exposed

Santos gives up two NT gas licences as fracking insurance risks exposed

Explosive Revelations today that Australia's largest insurance company IAG will no longer cover farmers for public liability if they have coal seam gas (CSG) infrastructure on their property should ring alarm bells for NT politicians.

The news comes on the same day fracking company Santos announced it would relinquish two gas licences - which covered a combined area of land about one million hectares in size - in the Roper and central Arnhem Land regions, demonstrating the instability of the industry.

“Evidently even gas companies aren’t sure if they really want to get involved in the NT, so why is the Gunner Government rolling out the red carpet for this dangerous polluting industry and potentially putting landholders at risk?” said Protect Country Alliance spokesperson Graeme Sawyer.

The Protect Country Alliance previously attempted to highlight concerns over current land access laws and insurance risks to the NT government but was ignored.  A legal expert in land access matters, MaryLou Potts, also travelled to Darwin in an attempt to explain to politicians the concerns and the flaws in Territory legislation.

Rod Dunbar, owner of Nutwood Downs cattle station near Daly Waters said, “This latest development just shows how governments are not taking the threat of fracking seriously.

“Regulations in the Petroleum Act are being drawn up right now, but there are no checks and balances for pastoral properties or farms at all.

“Fracking companies are proposing that they can come onto your property despite what your wishes are. If you don’t want to sign an access agreement they refer you to a tribunal and the tribunal allows them on to your property on whatever terms they deem fit.

“It’s not an access agreement, it’s an order.”

Mr Sawyer said the laws in place in the NT left landowners and occupiers at risk of being legally responsible for damages that could occur as a result of risky hydraulic fracturing activities, despite the landowner having no control over a company’s actions.

He said this transfer of liability extended to pastoral lease holders, Native Title holders, local shire councils, and others.

“The seriousness of this issue is highlighted by the insurers telling QLD farmers they will not offer public liability cover to a property that has CSG infrastructure on it,” Mr Sawyer said.

“We fully expect a similar scenario to play out in the NT as insurance companies understand the risk posed by unconventional gas operations.”

“The NT government has inadequate plans to mitigate these risks or to provide landowners with protection.

“I call on the NT government to explain its plans for the implementation of recommendation 4.6 on Page 39 of the Pepper report, where the inquiry found this deficiency needs to be addressed in order to do a final risk assessment.

“The insurance companies are clear in their risk assessments, but the Gunner Government seems willing to risk the Territory’s agricultural sector in favour of propping up the fracking industry.”

For further comment contact

Graeme Sawyer

Protect Country Alliance NT

[email protected]



Gunner’s gasmen a poor choice - could lead to NT’s economic bust yet again

Gunner’s gasmen a poor choice - could lead to NT’s economic bust yet again

The NT Gunner Government’s disappointing decision to appoint two pro-gas cheerleaders to the head of its
Economic Reconstruction Commission is short sighted at a time when renewables should be leading the post-coronavirus recovery, according to Protect Country Alliance.

The government today named Dow Chemical executive and Saudi Aramco board member Andrew Liveris as one of the Commission’s chairs, and former Chief Minister, Energy Club NT co-founder, and onshore gas advocate Paul Henderson as the other. 

Protect Country Alliance spokesperson Dan Robins said the gas industry had utterly captured the Gunner Government, despite a majority of Territorians being opposed to fracking.

“Australia’s gas fracking industry has suffered massive setbacks in the past few months due to the oil price crisis and the coronavirus-driven economic slowdown, yet Michael Gunner refuses to see the writing on the wall,” he said.

Both of these men have been cheerleaders for the gas fracking industry. Andrew Liveris has a long history of business deals with the struggling shale gas industry in the US, while Paul Henderson is the man who signed the INPEX contracts that have seen huge amounts of gas sold overseas while the NT economy falls further and further into debilitating debt.

“The way to supercharge and future proof our economy is undoubtedly renewables. We have a chance to create a clean, future-looking economy, yet Michael Gunner wants to tie us to tired old fossil fuels by appointing these gasmen to head the Reconstruction Commission.”

Beyond Zero Emissions' 10 Gigawatt Vision last year mapped out plans for a renewable powered manufacturing industry in the Northern Territory.

“We have the world’s best solar resources, yet the Gunner Government continues to use tens of millions of Territorian taxpayer dollars to prop up the unstable fracking industry,” Mr Robins said.

“The public purse certainly should not have to pay for these private fracking companies to lay waste to land, water, and communities.

“It is ludicrous that we should be subsidising and promoting the polluting, economically unviable fracking industry when renewable energy can provide cheaper, cleaner and more reliable future industries.”

Media contact: Daniel Robins, Protect Country Alliance Spokesperson Darwin 

[email protected]

Gunner’s gas cash giveaway

Gunner’s gas cash giveaway leaves Territorians flabbergasted

The Gunner Government’s bizarre decision to side with the Morrison Government and waste more taxpayer funds propping up polluting fracking gasfields will threaten communities, damage the environment, and push the Territory’s fragile economy further into the doldrums.

Today, Chief Minister Michael Gunner is expected to announce plans to use more public money to further subsidise the unstable and dying gas industry, while pushing for environmental vandals Origin Energy to resume fracking in the Beetaloo Basin.

“Let’s be clear, the fracking industry in the NT is a leaner, not a lifter,” Protect Country Alliance spokesperson Dan Robins said.

“The frackers are slackers who have guzzled more than $100 million in public funds over the past decade, while giving absolutely nothing back to Territorians.”

A recent report by The Australia Institute showed $94 million had been given to the shale gas industry over the past decade. According to the NT Government’s own budget figures, $60.4 million paid for subsidised exploration and gas industry promotion, while approximately $33.6 million went to unrecovered administration costs. 

Then last week, NT Treasurer Nicole Manison announced another $11.79 million for the NT onshore shale gas fracking industry. 

Mr Robins said fracking was the wrong way to encourage more manufacturing in the Territory.

“The shale gas industry has already been given more than $100 million of taxpayer money by the NT Government and now it is asking for more,” he said.

“These frackers can’t even stand on their own two feet. The public purse certainly should not have to pay for these private companies to lay waste to land, water, and communities.

“Manufacturing jobs can be powered by renewable sources. There are private solar companies lining up with plans to invest in the NT, instead Michael Gunner wants to use public money to prop up a dying gas industry.”

Beyond Zero Emissions' 10 Gigawatt Vision maps out plans for a renewable powered manufacturing industry in the Northern Territory.

“The NT Government needs to put an end to this wasteful, decade long addiction to giving away taxpayer money to the polluting and economically unviable shale gas fracking industry,” Mr Robins said.

“Instead, we are calling on the government to get behind the solar companies that want to create a renewable energy future for the NT.”


Media contact, Dan Robins, [email protected]