Beetaloo Basin cattle company loses Supreme Court bid to stop fracking exploration – ABC News

Beetaloo Basin cattle company loses Supreme Court bid to stop fracking exploration - ABC News

A gas company will be able to continue exploration in the Beetaloo Basin after a cattle company’s appeal to stop the activity was dismissed by the Northern Territory Supreme Court.

Rallen Australia, owned by the Langenhoven-Ravazotti family, had sought to overturn a February 2022 NT Civil and Administrative Tribunal decision that allowed Tamboran Resources’ subsidiary Sweetpea Petroleum to come onto Tanumbirini Station to explore for gas.

Justice Peter Barr dismissed all eight grounds of appeal that Rallen’s lawyers had argued.

The case was seen as a precedent for legal interactions between pastoralists and gas companies because it was the first to test mandatory land access laws introduced in the NT in 2021.

Tamboran chief executive and managing director Joel Riddle said in a statement that he was “pleased with the NT Supreme Court’s ruling” and was looking forward “to working closely with all our stakeholders in progressing the development of the Beetaloo Basin in a safe and responsible manner”.

“As the first challenge of the NT government’s changes to the legislation and regulations permitting access for exploration purposes, the decision sets an important precedent for future operations across the Beetaloo Basin,” he said.

“We are pleased to lead the way by securing this important precedent and ensure that the benefits of the decision will extend to many stakeholders.”

Pierre Langenhoven and Luciana Ravazzotti are staunchly opposed to fracking on their cattle stations.()

Rallen weighs appeal options

Rallen has fiercely opposed any gas exploration on its properties and director Pierre Langenhoven previously declared the pastoral and gas industry “cannot coexist”.

Mr Langenhoven said Rallen would “consider this decision and our appeal options” for the Supreme Court decision.

“We are disappointed in the decision, as the land access agreement provides minimum protections to pastoralists and puts all the risk and all the cost onto the pastoralist,” he said in a statement.

“This sadly sets a precedent for poor quality and punitive agreements moving forward.”

Sweetpea started exploration works on Tanumbirini Station in May 2022.()

Sweetpea/Tamboran entered Tanumbirini in May 2022 under the terms of its exploration permit, but against the wishes of Rallen and some traditional owners.

Since then, Mr Langenhoven said he felt like he had “lost control” of the part of Tanumbirini within Sweetpea’s permit area.

“I cannot protect the station and my cattle from the impacts of fracking, all I can do is monitor and seek compensation after the damage is done,” he said.

Rallen Australia will receive a minimum of $15,000 compensation per gas well drilled on the property as a part of its land access agreement with Sweetpea.

The Helmerich & Payne drill rig was sent from the Port of Houston and unloaded in Darwin this week.()

Australia’s ‘most powerful’ rig

This week Tamboran unloaded what it has labelled Australia’s “most powerful onshore drilling rig” from a ship at Darwin Port.

Anti-fracking protesters gathered out the front of the port on Wednesday to voice their opposition to the use of the drill rig and fracking in the Beetaloo.

Tamboran said the drill rig, imported from the US, was capable of drilling horizontal wells more than 4,000 metres in length.

Tamboran has contracted the rig for a minimum of two years and is currently “evaluating the opportunity” to use it to drill a 3,000 metre horizontal section in an existing well on Tanumbirini Station in mid-2023.

The NT government is expected to make a final decision on whether to allow commercial development of the Beetaloo Basin in the coming weeks.


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