A gas leak at a fracking well in WA has drawn criticism from environmental groups, and sparked government concerns about the possible involvement of a “third party”.
The Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP) has launched an investigation into claims of “a dangerous gas leak” at the Yulleroo-2 well site, operated by Buru Energy.
Environs Kimberley, an environmental group based in Broome, were first to report the leak to DMP.
The group claimed gas meter readings at Yulleroo-2 were “dangerous enough to explode”, The West Australian reported.
Footage taken by anti-fracking group Lock The Gate showed high methane readings on a handheld gas meter at the well site.
DMP inspectors found low-level gas readings, with methane levels below the regulated lower explosive limit.
The leak came from a wellhead valve stem which exhibited signs of physical damage, having been bent out of shape.
DMP petroleum division executive director Jeff Haworth said the leak posed minimal risk and would be repaired as quickly as possible.
“It appears at this stage there has been no equipment or process failure,” he said.
However, Haworth also raised concerns about the possibility sabotage: “The damage presents a serious concern if a third party has been involved,” he said.
“In light of the serious nature of the damage involved, the department will be investigating further.”
A spokesman for Buru Energy said no gas was released from the valve until it had been manually moved, and that at last inspection by Buru staff the wellhead valve was not damaged.
Drilled in 2010, the Yulleroo-2 well was the first fracture stimulation in the Canning Superbasin, which successfully demonstrated the potential of the Laurel Formation as a major unconventional wet gas resource.
Buru Energy said long term monitoring of Yulleroo-2 showed there were “no detectable effects at the surface or in the aquifers of this operation”.
Executive chairman Eric Streitberg said Buru Energy was concerned that video footage provided to the media was supplied by people who had illegally entered the fenced compound at the well site.
"We would like to think that those who recorded the video are not responsible for the ddamage to the valve," he said.