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Australia's Biggest Oil-Producing Project Could Be In Jeopardy

An indigenous group is set to vote this week on whether to authorize oil and gas fracking in Western Australia and related infrastructure in a project that, if approved, could become Australia's largest fracking and oil-producing venture.  

Karajarri Traditional Lands Association (KTLA) native title holders will vote on August 28 on whether to approve the project, the association's chief executive Martin Bin Rashid told ABC, declining to be interviewed or comment on the vote.

The Great Sandy Desert Project by Australian company Theia Energy proposes to frack unconventional oil and gas resources in west Kimberley, having successfully drilled a discovery well back in 2015. The company said that the project has substantial potential for development.

Theia Energy has said that the fracking project, alongside an oil pipeline and ports, could require capital investment of US$55.3 billion (77 billion Australian dollars), ABC reported last year. Theia Energy has said that it has found up to 57 billion barrels of oil at the prospect.

"It will probably end up being the biggest oil project in Australia," KTLA chairman Thomas King told ABC in August 2019.

The association expects there could be enormous benefits for the indigenous community, but whether the "Karajarri people feel that is something they want to entertain still remains to be decided," King said last year.

The project was not a proposal but an investment brochure, Theia Energy's chief operating officer Jop van Hattum told ABC last year, noting that "There are a lot of assumptions in the economic model at this stage."

With oil and gas prices hitting multi-year lows earlier this year and the global oil and gas industry still suffering from the coronavirus-inflicted crisis, it is unclear how the project could get multi-billion-dollar financing.

As with many other fracking projects outside the United States, costs and environmental opposition could derail the Australian project.

"At this time in history, is the Western Australia Govt going to support this climate busting fracking, ports, and oil pipeline project for west Kimberley?" Environs Kimberley says.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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