Miner defends fracking in the Cooper Basin

Fracking in the Cooper Basin is safe and people need to look at the facts, the head of Beach Energy has said.

Fracking in the Cooper Basin is safe and people need to look at the facts, the head of Beach Energy has said.

Managing director Reg Nelson said Beach's operations in the Cooper were far removed from aquifers and have undergone a rigorous assessment process.

"There's no proven damage to aquifers and there's no proven increase in seismicity of consequence," he told ABC television on Sunday.

Beach Energy is expanding its Cooper Basin production by developing a shale gas project.

While Mr Nelson concedes that his company has a lot to gain from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, he is confident that the technique is both environmentally sensitive and safe. "I think people just need to look at the facts and make an assessment on the facts and not on perceptions or wild assertions that are made without any foundation," he said.

Last month, Beach Energy trimmed its full-year production guidance and announced a $349 million shale oil deal with US energy giant Chevron.

Last week, BHP Billiton signalled that it was looking at shale opportunities in Australia as part of an expansion of its US-focused shale footprint.

Shale oil and gas have transformed the US economy in the past five years, but in Australia the sector is in its infancy.

Mr Nelson said there was a very good domestic market for shale gas and pipelines could service all the major capital cities on Australia's east coast.

"If the volumes are there, then clearly there's opportunities to look at export potential, whether it's via existing or planned facilities, or new facilities," he said.

"That'll really depend on what we find in this phase of exploration and assessment."

The Cooper Basin was emerging as the major onshore petroleum province, but there was potential to harness more unconventional gas in older basins.

Mr Nelson said the Canning Basin in Western Australia's north, the Perth Basin and the Otway in Gippsland were all worth exploring for gas.

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