Can frac-ing cause peoples’ water supplies to contain gas?
This myth is largely attributable to a falsehood knowingly presented in the move ‘Gasland’, where a Colorado man sets fire to the gas-water mix coming out of his kitchen tap. Colorado officials have confirmed that the man’s water bore was itself drilled into a naturally occurring pocket of natural gas (a fact that was known to, but not disclosed by, the maker of the movie).
This same phenomenon is not uncommon in Australia. A number of water bores and hot springs in the Gippsland area have historically contained natural gas.
What are the consequences of the Government’s bad judgment?
There are multiple, potentially very damaging, consequences of the Victorian Government’s unsubstantiated action.
- Access to a plentiful, low-cost source of gas has been denied, which will result in east coast Australian gas supply shortages and increasing prices.
- Rising gas prices will cause hardship for families. According to the Victorian Government’s Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, “Victoria has the largest residential gas demand of any Australian state, with total residential demand exceeding 100 Petajoules per year or two-thirds of all residential gas consumption in Australia”.
- The gas price rises will also threaten the competitiveness of the Victorian manufacturing industry, the real backbone of the Victorian economy. Manufacturing industry closures will lead to job losses whereas, if low-cost onshore gas supplies were developed, opportunities would instead exist for industry growth and new job creation.
- Farmers are being denied the right to agree to petroleum exploration and production activity taking place on their land and, in turn, to earning a drought-proof non-farm stream of income.
- The state of Victoria will miss out on hundreds of millions of dollars of Royalty income – income that could be spent on hospitals, schools, police and other public services.
- Victoria’s ability to transition to a low-carbon future is being compromised. Quick-start gas fuelled generators are the ideal complement to solar or wind generation, with their inherent lack of reliability. Methane itself comprises one carbon and four hydrogen atoms – the main product of methane’s combustion is water vapour, not carbon dioxide.
The Victorian Government is ignoring the long-term interests of the state and its residents, opting instead for short-term opportunism.