Justin Tutty appeared before the Darwin Local Court on November 28, charged with trespass for locking on to Tamboran’s Resources megafracker in May.
The United States company acquired Origin Energy’s stake in fracking the Beetaloo Basin last year. The megafracker can drill a well in just 10 days, compared to 70 days for a conventional rig.
Tamboran wants to drill 12 pilot wells on Amungee Mungee cattle station, southeast of Daly Waters. At full production, the NT and federal governments envisage 200–300 wells to be drilled each year over 20–40 years.
But its plans are being scrutinised by the NT Supreme Court in a case brought by the Central Australian Frack Free Alliance (CAFFA) against the NT Environment Minister.
Tamboran workers went public in August about being told to spray contaminated drill rig water around.
The company has begun work at the Shenandoah South 1H well pad in the Beetaloo Basin, it was reported on November 27.
Climate Analytics estimates that CSIRO/GISERA has significantly underestimated the annual emissions from fracking the Beetaloo Basin: a true reckoning would be the equivalent to 11% of Australia’s total emissions in 2021.
An Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report from March stated that the climate emergency is now so acute that no new fossil fuel projects should be approved. Unless global emissions are halted, temperatures could rise above 3°C by 2100, causing irreversible damage to ecosystems.
Marcos A Orellana, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Toxics and Human Rights, who visited Darwin over August and September sounded a warning.
“Recent scientific reports suggest that temperatures in the Northern Territories could make the region uninhabitable for humans,” he said. “Despite that, petrochemical and oil and gas industries are lining up massive projects in the region. This threatens to make Darwin and the region a climate change sacrifice zone.”
The Middle Arm Precinct is set to play a crucial role in helping expand the gas and petrochemical industries.
“It’s outrageous that these fracking companies can get away with absolute impunity, with the full protection and encouragement of the law,” said retired schoolteacher Christine Cox, who supported Tutty in court. “Meanwhile those who try to do something about it are dragged through the courts on criminal charges.”
Cox is a member of the No New Gas Coalition. “In my view, direct action and civil disobedience are the only ways we are going to protect our environment because governments have shown themselves to be entirely captured by the fossil fuel industry.”