Green paper, ‘Shale Gas in Australia: the Policy Options’ released

24 October 2013

UCL today released its latest green paper, Shale Gas in Australia: the Policy Options, which examines in detail for the first time the reasons behind the US shale gas boom and asks the question: ‘If Australia wants its own shale gas revolution, what needs to happen?’

Launched at the CEDA Energy Future Series in Adelaide on the 24th October (see the Shale gas in Australia: The policy options presentation by Prof. Paul Stevens), the paper provides 10 recommendations which it says policy makers should debate, particularly as the Federal Government builds momentum towards its new Energy White Paper, due by September next year.

The report was prepared by UCL’s International Energy Policy Institute (IEPI), and its Director, Professor Stefaan Simons, says policy makers seeking a shale revolution should focus on the key drivers:

  • committing government funds to develop 2D and 3D seismology maps;
  • developing a wholesale gas market, similar to the ‘Henry Hub-style’ market in the US;
  • getting tougher on ensuring greater third party access to gas pipelines; and
  • ensuring shale gas receipts were better targeted to regional priorities and not lost in general revenue.

Shale Gas in Australia: the Policy Options proposes that:

1. State and Territory governments should fund the greater use of seismic (2D and 3D) data banks to verify lucrative areas for shale gas production and use this and a “use it or lose it” focus to prioritise shale gas projects based on the best resource basins.

2. The development of a larger and more competitive service industry for drilling and fraccing should be encouraged, by offering a more attractive tax regime, including altering capital allowances and depreciation.

3. The acute shortage of deep well ‘proppants’ (used to keep channels propped open to allow trapped oil and gas to escape) and ‘guar gum’ (thickening agent) could be mitigated by stimulating domestic supply industries, again through taxation instruments, including accelerated depreciation of capital investment.

4. The disclosure of fraccing fluids could be published widely on a well-by-well basis, to enhance transparency and accountability.

5. The formation of knowledge sharing alliances among developers and service companies could be encouraged, through investment and other fiscal measures.

6. Third party access to existing pipeline infrastructure could be improved by the implementation of a common carriage policy obligating pipeline owners to distribute the existing pipeline capacity on a pro rata basis, even if it is fully utilized.

7. The development of a stronger wholesale market by implementing a trading platform for unused pipeline capacity could simplify gas transactions.

8. Regulatory measures specific to shale gas operations should be contemplated in regards to environmental impact management and community engagement. Disparate legislation should be pulled together under a specific regime to aid transparency and ensure the effective governance of shale gas operations across Australia.

9. Obtaining social licences to operate with wider local community participation is vital for any long-term shale gas industry. The collaboration and understanding of stakeholders is crucial to reducing barriers for development.

10. State and Federal Governments should more directly link local community employment, training, economic and social programmes to receipts from future shale revenues.

Read more:

Image kindly made available by tjgiordano on Flickr, under Creative Commons Attribution- Non-commercial-ShareAlike licence.

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