Litigation Against Unconventional Gas Producers: Lessons from the US Experience
- Richard M Lightfoot (Casconsult Pty Ltd)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Asia Pacific Unconventional Resources Conference and Exhibition, 9-11 November, Brisbane, Australia
- Publication Date
- Document Type
- Conference Paper
- 2015. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 7 Management and Information, 5 Reservoir Desciption & Dynamics, 7.2.1 Risk, Uncertainty and Risk Assessment, 4.1 Processing Systems and Design, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 5.8.1 Tight Gas, 7.2 Risk Management and Decision-Making, 5.8 Unconventional and Complex Reservoirs, 4 Facilities Design, Construction and Operation, 5.8.3 Coal Seam Gas, 6.5.3 Waste Management
- Corporate Responsibility, Unconventional Gas Industry, Risk, Groundwater Contamination, Litigation
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"Litigation against unconventional gas producers; lessons from the US experience."
Richard M Lightfoot, Casconsult Pty Ltd
In North America, exploration and production of oil and gas from unconventional sources principally shale, but also tight sandstones and coal seams – is more developed than elsewhere in the world. The presence of large shale, tight gas, and coal seam gas reserves has led to exploration throughout the world.
In Australia, the unconventional gas industry is most developed in Queensland, is seeking to expand in New South Wales and South Australia, and is prospective in Western Australia the Northern Territory, and, to a much lesser extent Victoria.
In the light of the US experience, which has included claims of mechanical failures and inappropriate waste treatment and disposal, leading to groundwater contamination, induced seismicity and hazardous fugitive emissions, government and scientific agencies have produced thousands of studies of the perceived benefits and risks associated with the gas.
In each jurisdiction where unconventional gas extractions has been proposed, governments have been developing legislative regimes for resource allocation and for the managing of risks, through statutes, regulations, standard, and codes of practice.
In the USA, landowners and other citizens who believe that unconventional gas extraction has caused damage to land, water, human and animal health, have resorted to ligation seeking to recover damages, principally by bringing tortuous claims in negligence, nuisance and trespass. In some jurisdiction, actions have also been based on strict liability and legislated rebuttable presumptions of liability.
The paper summarises some cases brought in the USA, to identify the basis of the claims and to analyse their outcomes. In particular, claims brought in tort, and the potential for such claims brought in Australia must be considered.
All sections of the Unconventional Gas Industry need to become aware of their continuing responsibilities. Corporations require an intimate knowledge of the law, its interpretation and the need to minimise exposure to financial, environmental and health risks.
|File Size||1 MB||Number of Pages||29|
Australia's federal Constitution is modelled on that of the USA, and has embedded separation of powers, with three Chapters providing separate heads of power for the Legislature, executive and Judiciary, and with strong Constitutional separation of powers in particular as between the legislature and the judiciary.
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The Orange City Council's resolution states: That Orange City Council create a policy banning any and all Coal Seam Gas in the Orange Council area, in affect creating Orange as a Coal Seam Gas Free Zone. That Orange City Council as a member of Centroc, request that our Motion be considered as a Centroc wide policy for ALL Member Councils in Centroc. That Council seek support for this policy through the Association of Mining Related Councils. That Council supports NSW Farmers in their opposition to coal seam gas mining
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The full resolution adopted by the Wagga Wagga Council states: "That Council Place a moratorium on coal seam gas (CSG) exploration on all lands under the care and/or control of Wagga Wagga City Council in the Wagga Wagga Local Government Area (LGA) and call for a full assessment by the State Government of the impacts of the activity of CSG on the sustainability of agricultural production and aquifers in the LGA Place a moratorium on seismic testing to be conducted on any roads or lands under the care and/or control of Wagga Wagga City Council for the purposes of CSG exploration not accept any donations, grants or gifts from any CSG companies or associated organisations or their representatives write a letter of in-principle support to the Lock The Gate organisation and include in this letter the position of Council outlined in this resolution nominate the Mayor to officially present a copy of this resolution to our current State and Federal local members and forward this resolution to the relevant State and Federal Ministers place notification of this resolution on Council's website present this resolution to our partner Councils at Riverina Eastern Regional Organisation of Councils (REROC) for their consideration.
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