In June 2007, the South Australian Government granted two licences for petroleum exploration on the Maralinga Tjarutja Lands. As part of the negotiations, Maralinga Tjarutja secured a contract to construct 1250km of access tracks and other employment opportunities.
The Paper Trail
On 25 June 2007, the State Minister for Mineral Resources Development granted two petroleum exploration licences to Officer Basin Energy Pty Ltd (OBE).[i]
The licenses cover a combined area of 26 700km2 of the Maralinga Tjarutja Lands and last for five years.[ii]
On 14 November 2007, the Minister noted that his granting of the licences “followed successful ground-breaking” access negotiations between Maralinga Tjarutja and OBE. Those negotiations had culminated in an agreement to provide Maralinga Tjarutja, as part of the exploration process, with substantial business opportunities. The Minister explained:
Maralinga Tjarutja owns a bulldozer, grader and other earthmoving equipment and has skilled people to operate such. The first phase in Officer Basin Energy’s exploration program involves 1250km of seismic survey, most of this requiring preparation of new but temporary access tracks … Maralinga Tjarutja was successful in bidding for the line preparation for this program … Not only does this represent a substantial business contact for Maralinga Tjarutja and a track record for future work, but it is a major employment and training opportunity for many Maralinga Tjarutja people from the local community.[iii]
OBE’s exploration program began on 4 October 2007. In its first year, OBE will complete 1250 kilometres of seismic surveying. According to the Minister, OBE is committed to completing a “similar amount” of surveying in the second year to “define drilling targets,” with a drilled well planned for the third year of its operation. In all of those phases, Maralinga Tjarutja will have “the opportunity to be involved in commercial business undertakings such as earth moving contracts.”[iv]
In addition, OBE is required to employ a “cultural heritage team of Maralinga Tjarutja people” to complete “work area clearances.” These clearances are undertaken to make sure exploration activities avoid culturally sensitive areas.[v]
This article has been archived and will no longer be updated. It will, however, remain accessible online as a source of background information for anyone wishing to undertake further research on this issue. Information included in the article was current at the time it was archived. Keep in mind, however, that Ministerial changes and names of departments, among other things, may have since changed.
[i] South Australian Government Gazette, 28 June 2007, “Petroleum Act 2000,” p 2779.
[ii] The first licence (PEL81), covering 20,531km2, runs from 25 June 2007 until 24 June 2012 “with the right to three renewals.” The second licence (PEL 253), covering 6169km2, runs for the same period but with only two rights of renewal. ( See “Memorandum entering notation of Confirmation and Amending Agreement dated 29 October 2007 between Officer Basin Energy Pty Ltd, Ensearch Petroleum Pty Ltd, Ensearch Petroleum (Block 81) Ltd and Ensearch Petroleum (Block 253) Ltd on the commercial register. Ref: SA 2007-42”).
[iii] Holloway, P. 14 November 2007, “Petroleum Exploration,” Hansard, Legislative Council, Parliament of South Australia.
[iv] Holloway, P. 14 November 2007, “Petroleum Exploration,” Hansard, Legislative Council, Parliament of South Australia.
[v] Holloway, P. 14 November 2007, “Petroleum Exploration,” Hansard, Legislative Council, Parliament of South Australia.
[vi] Ramsay. B. September 2007, “Access track construction in Maralinga Tjarutja Lands: a success story,” MESA Journal, Issue 46, p9.