In February, the conservative state government of Queensland lifted a ban on shale oil exploration and production along its coast, enabling companies to begin assessing the potential there, in the search for starting a shale boom equal to the one in the US.
Queensland Energy Resources, one of the companies with mining rights in the area, has still to make a decision as to whether it will begin extracting the estimated 8 billion barrels of recoverable oil that is contained in its land; out of a total 22 billion barrels for the entire state.
The Australian Green party has attacked the decision to allow fracking to occur in Queensland, claiming it is the equivalent of “environmental vandalism”, but state premier Campbell Newman has said that the jobs and income the new industry would bring are worth the risk to the environment. “I do accept the criticism about energy intensiveness, but at the end of the day we are running out of oil.”
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Thankfully, due to pressure over the environmental impact of the growing oil and gas industry along the Queensland coastline, mining shale oil from underneath the Great Barrier Reef is likely to be banned by the country’s federal government.
The federal environment minister, Tony Burke, has explained that some of the shale deposits do indeed lie near to, or underneath, the Great Barrier Reef world heritage site, which means that these deposits cannot be touched, under the principles of the world heritage committee. “World heritage principles on mineral extraction are absolutely clear. You can't extract minerals or oil from underneath the Great Barrier Reef. Simple as that.”
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com