Application to drill is lodged

AN application to drill two wells in Wellington Shire to explore for natural gas is still being considered, but has not sought permission to carry out fracking.

Queensland-based Icon Energy is seeking approval from the Department of Primary Industries to drill two conventional petroleum exploration wells in the Woodside and Darriman areas.

Icon was granted a petroleum exploration permit in 2010, but a DPI spokesman said the company had not sought, nor received, approval from the department to carry out fracking.

“As is normal practice, DPI has made an initial assessment of Icon’s plans and sent them back to Icon with a first round of comments and requests for further information,” the spokesman said.

“DPI is now waiting for additional information from Icon.”

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves pumping a fluid under pressure down a well to increase the permeability of rocks to allow gas to flow.

Fracking fluids are usually made up of about 98 per cent water and sand, with additives.

“Victoria has a strict regulatory regime in place that would govern any application to carry out fracking and provide strong protection for the environment,” the DPI spokesman said.

“Any licensee seeking to carry out fracking in Victoria is required to submit their plans for approval.”

Companies are required to provide evidence to be assessed by DPI about their plans, the potential risks they posed and how these risks would be eliminated or mitigated.

“The use of any additives in fracking fluids would be subject to Victoria’s strict regulations on groundwater,” the spokesman said.

“The State Environment Protection Policy (Groundwaters of Victoria), under the Environment Protection Act, does not allow discharge that will pollute groundwater.

“DPI would refer any application to use such additives to the Environment Protection Authority to determine whether the proposal adhered with the Environment Protection Act and ensure that they did not pose unacceptable risks to the environment.”

Icon commercial manager Richard Holliday recently told Wellington Shire Council the company was in the final stages of securing land to drill the wells.

The company is also seeking approval to undertake a seismic survey of the area, using cabling and three trucks over 400 kilometres of roads.