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Origin Energy Chair confirms Kimberley exit

[supplied by Martin Pritchard]

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Image: supplied

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

When the Origin farm-in with Buru Energy for seven permits covering 20,000km2 in Western Australia’s Canning Basin in the Kimberley was announced in December 2020, the company stated “Origin will now hold positions in three large prospective onshore basins – the Beetaloo, Canning, and Cooper-Eromanga – giving us exposure to conventional and unconventional gas plays and what we believe are the most prospective shale formations in Australia.”

The unconventional gas play in the Kimberley would have to be fracked. Fracking is highly controversial around the world and is banned in many countries.

Origin stated at the time of the farm-in “The total estimated spend by Origin over a two-year period is expected to be approximately $35 million inclusive of a two-well drilling program and seismic work.”

Origin Energy Chairperson Scott Perkins was asked a question by a shareholder at the AGM:

Question – Did Origin know about the significant opposition to fracking in the Kimberley’s Canning Basin before going into the joint venture with Buru Energy and in hindsight do you think it was a bad move given the loss occurred on the failed Currajong gas well?

Answer by Scott Perkins, Chair – 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 has welcomed the news.

“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,” said Environs Kimberley Director Martin Pritchard.

“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.”

“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,” Mr Pritchard said.

“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,” said Mr Pritchard.

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