Accessing shale gas would be expensive and difficult

Researchers from the Australian Council of Learned Academics have said Australia’s shale gas deposits are far greater than previously believed, but accessing them will be difficult.

The council’s report, Securing Australia’s Future, suggests that resources of gas, accessed by fracturing shale rock, could exceed 1000 trillion cubic feet, with previous estimates putting them at 396 trillion cubic feet.

However, these would be expensive and difficult to develop, due to being in isolated areas lacing in infrastructure.

"What we have concluded is that there is a lot of shale gas resources and the issue is to turn that into reserves; in other words to turn them into economic deposits," Peter Cook, who chaired the group’s team working on the report, told the ABC.

''Shale gas will not be cheap gas… We have large resources but few economic reserves at this stage,'' he said.

The report compares Australia’s gas reserves with the United States’ current shale gas boom, which has often been credited with driving the country’s “manufacturing renaissance”. It concludes that the US experience would not be replicated here.

Fairfax notes that this contradicts comments made by resources minister Gary Gray early last month.

Gray, a former executive at energy company Woodside, said shale gas exploration in Australia, ''will drive once again prosperity through a manufacturing sector and it will drive prosperity through downward pressure on domestic gas prices," claimed Gray.

Image: Perthnow.com.au

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