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Desert fracking opportunity could become Australia’s biggest oil project



Theia Energy - a Perth based Oil & Gas company - have conducted exploration activity suggesting that as much as 57 billion barrels of oil could be located in unconventional sources across the Great Sandy Desert, 150km south-east of Broome. 

The Theia-1 exploration well, drilled in 2015
(Image via Theia Energy)

It’s thought that fracking operations taking place in a network of oil wells connected by pipelines to new and existing ports would require a capital investment of $77 billion, and would become Australia’s biggest oil-producing project.

The company is in negotiations with the Karajarri traditional owners of the area to gain permission for initial fracking operations 1km underground to confirm commercial flow rates of oil.

"It will probably end up being the biggest oil project in Australia," said Thomas King, Chairman of the Karajarri Traditional Lands Association.

"I envisage there will be a huge benefit in such a huge project like this, but whether Karajarri people feel that is something they want to entertain still remains to be decided."

A project factsheet produced by Theia Energy last year suggests that six billion barrels would be recoverable from the shale rock - the estimated value of which would be $250 billion in tax revenue and $55 billion in royalties to the government. 

The $77 billion project would aim to produce 100,000 barrels a day at peak.

Plans for the development of the project
(Image via Theia Energy)

The proposed project is still in the very early stages, but Theia Energy’s chief operating officer Jop van Hattum remains cautiously optimistic about the chances of reaching that high level of production.

“There is a potential for that, there’s a lot of work to be done to see if that is all possible...We’re optimistic that we can succeed because it is a large resource.”

He also referred to the project’s environmental impact:

“There are ways to offset greenhouse gas emissions and we’re certainly committed to this project being sustainable in the future.”

The next stage of the project will depend on the Karajarri people approving the fracking activity in the area. However King - who is leading the negotiations on behalf of traditional owners - has suggested that the many employment opportunities offered by the project to local workers will be a significant factor in that decision.

"Employment opportunities are pretty limited as you can imagine in a community of up to 1,000 people with no industry.

“We as traditional owners, I guess, will take advantage of any of those opportunities and hopefully add to the quality of life for people in the community."

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Recent Comments
Excellent news - at last WA is beginning to realize its natural resources that are available to it are more than just iron ore, LPG and nickel. Just needs innovative Companies to pursue the other commodities until they become equally big revenue earners for the State. Well done to the brave Karrajarri people who want to overcome traditional problems, and go ahead with the development of their community despite the enormous opposition to fracking processes brought to us by the eastern States based lunatic fringe groups.
Iain Scott, 15 August 2019
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Desert fracking opportunity could become Australia’s biggest oil project - Time to read 3 min
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