- another reason why the Victorian State Government needs to improve regulation
Plugged and abandoned wells - does the Victoria government actually know where they all are.
The answer is clearly no.
Historically, Gippsland has been explored for onshore gas and oil over many decades.
But what is under discussion is the actual record keeping of the abandoned wells, to their completion and to their current status.
In Gippsland we have a well in the sea off McLoughlins Beach that was previously on land yet for some reason the Victoria government don't believe it is necessary to mark this site with a buoy even though it would now be classified as a navigational hazard and legally they should. Maybe it might have something to do with the fact that government do not want to show how far the land has sunk.
The Government do know about this well's location but, ironically, it appears the company (Lakes Oil), owner of the well didn't. When some company reps decided to do a check and couldn't find the site on land, they were very surprised when asked by a local "did you bring a boat because it is now out in the sea."
Photo below on left is Lakes Oil Well #3 taken from the top of the rig in the 1950's
Photo on right is Well #2 in the foreground and #3 well head on the surf line in the background circa 1980's. This well head now sits near the third breaker off shore.
Strange how the government is in denial that the land is sinking > go to subsidence in Gippsland
Many a council contractor have mowed roadside land and hit well heads, unmarked and obviously not recorded as an obstacle.
Given that approximately 90% of Gippsland is under some form of exploration licence, at what point do the Victorian Dept of State Development and Business Innovation (DSDBI) decide that it might be a smart idea to actually start managing the old well sites and introduce some legislative recognition of past, present and future problems that may arise before you start an onslaught of new drilling once the fracking moratorium expires in July 2015.
The reason that Community Over Mining is actively pursuing this issue as being a priority is due to the extraordinary response from the South Australian Government to a landowner that they would have to bear the costs to maintain an old observation well that was located on their land.
- 'The Nultys received a response from the government department stating that the occupier of the land where the well is situated would have to take responsibility for the maintenance of the hole, meaning the Nultys would have to pay for it themselves.' ... "This situation where onerous obligations and financial burdens are imposed on unsuspecting land owners and uninformed buyers of the land, having the responsibility of maintaining this well mentioned or any of these wells that remain, from three decades ago is unfair and highly unsatisfactory," Mrs Nulty said.
See full article here from the South Australian newspaper Coastal Leader. What are the legislative requirements here in Victoria given coal seam gas is regulated under the Mineral Resources Sustainable Development Act 1990 (MRSDA) and oil,tight and shale gas is regulated under the Petroleum Act 1998
Again, the community are the watchdog asking the questions!!!