South Australia’s Unconventional Resource

A newly published guide outlines the opportunities and risks involved in exploiting unconventional reserves in South Australia.
This article appeared in Vol. 10, No. 2 - 2013


Premier of South Australia, Hon. Jay Weatherill MP, turning the valve to start production from Moomba 191, Australia’s first commercial shale gas well, in the Cooper Basin. Source: Santos Ltd. Once regarded as something that would happen in the future, recent exploration results achieved in the South Australian Cooper Basin by companies like Santos, Beach Energy, Origin Energy and Senex Energy are leading towards unconventional gas being used in households across south-east Australia. Australia’s first unconventional gas production was achieved by Santos and its Cooper Basin joint venture partners Beach Energy (Delhi) and Origin Energy on October 19, 2012, when commercial natural gas production commenced from Moomba 191 shale gas well. Explorers have been accelerating appraisal of Cooper Basin unconventional gas plays.

The South Australia Department for Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy (DMITRE) formed a South Australian Roundtable for Unconventional Gas in May 2010. A total of 240 organizations are participating in this, including individuals, peak representative bodies, companies, universities, media outlets, and key agencies from all states, the Northern Territory and the federal government. The roundtable was tasked with producing a roadmap for unconventional gas projects in South Australia to identify opportunities and risks in order to: inform markets; inform people and enterprises that may someday compatibly co-exist with unconventional gas projects; and reduce critical uncertainties that may impede efficient, profitable and welcomed investment.

South Australia became the first Australian state to finalize a comprehensive approach to developing its vast unconventional gas resources on December 12, 2012, when Minister Koutsantonis released the Roadmap for Unconventional Gas Projects in South Australia. The roadmap lays out the priorities for attention that, once addressed, will lead to more unconventional gas being extracted from South Australia.

The roadmap lays out the opportunities to develop South Australia’s gas resources in a sustainable way and options for reducing uncertainties that may act as a disincentive to investment. The 125 recommendations cover the full life cycle of unconventional gas projects – from exploration to production and possible liquefied natural gas exports, as well as related supply chains and infrastructure. To progress the recommendations, the roundtable will come together early in 2013 to develop action plans to implement agreed priorities.

The roadmap can be downloaded from DMITRES’s Petroleum website Go to Prospectivity, Basin & Province Information, Unconventional Gas, Unconventional Gas Interest Group.


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