Origin Energy chair confirms Kimberley exit

Aerial shot of gas exploration equipment in the Beetaloo Basin (safeguard mechanism)
Gas exploration equipment in the Beetaloo Basin

Origin Energy chair Scott Perkins confirmed that the company will exit its Kimberley oil and gas interests at the company AGM.

Origin has held positions in three large prospective onshore basins—Beetaloo, Canning, and Cooper-Eromanga—giving the company exposure to conventional and unconventional gas plays and some of the most prospective shale formations in Australia.

Related article: Origin announces plan to quit gas exploration

The unconventional gas play in the Kimberley would have to be fracked—a practice that is highly controversial around the world and is banned in some countries.

During the AGM, a shareholder asked Perkins if Origin know about the significant opposition to fracking in the Kimberley’s Canning Basin before going into the joint venture with Buru Energy.

Perkins responded, “These permits are currently part of the strategic review and our intention is to exit these permits over time. Our decision to co-invest alongside Buru as the operator of those activities was we think an entirely appropriate one. Third point I’d make is, as with the Northern Territory scientific study supported by the CSIRO into the safety of fracking, we think there is ample, ample scientifically based evidence to support the safety of fracking in appropriate circumstances.”

Broome-based conservation group Environs Kimberley welcomed Origin’s decision.

“This is a very sensible decision by Origin. The oil and gas industry has never gained a social licence to undertake fracking in the Kimberley,” Environs Kimberley director Martin Pritchard said.

“The industry’s carbon emissions, toxic chemical use and the landscape-scale damage are incompatible with the natural and cultural values of the region, which has a tourism economy worth over $500 million, employing over 1,600 people or 10% of the workforce.”

Related article: Origin Energy pleads guilty to CSG contamination

“They got the message that fracking the Kimberley would mean significant reputational damage, particularly for companies like Australian Super, which is the largest investor in the company.

“The Origin exit signals plainly to investors that fracking in the Kimberley is not a good investment, and will be a stranded asset in the future.”

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