CalEnergy announced it will decommission the two exploration wells which have been used to test the potential for natural gas production at Whicher Range.
In a statement, CalEnergy stated it would seal the two wells with concrete and remove the well heads, and that the land around the well locations would also be rehabilitated.
“CalEnergy has completed an extensive evaluation of all available geological data. The company remains convinced that hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – will not be suitable for developing the Whicher Range gas resource,” the statement said.
At this stage, CalEnergy has not seen sufficient economic or technical evidence to justify any short term, exploration activity within the exploration permit EP-408.
“On this basis CalEnergy has no plans or approvals for further drilling, well-testing or seismic data acquisition.”
The Gasfield Free South West Alliance has called for the cancellation of a gas lease covering Whicher Range following the announcement.
Gasfield Free South West Alliance co-convenor Kathy Thomson said to give the community a real sense of relief the group would like CalEnergy to give the lease back to the government as soon as it has finished remediating the area.
“We remain concerned that the Whicher 5 well in the gasfield has more than 500,000 litres of lost diesel fracking fluid still sitting down the hole in what is a priority one water catchment area for the town of Margaret River,” she said.
“We would like to see the government devise a plan to decontaminate the well as part of the overall remediation of this site."
South west Coordinator for the Lock the Gate Alliance Jane Hammond said there were currently six communities in the South West which declared their areas off limits to the gas industry through a gas field free community declaration.
“The community campaign has been successful in getting rid of several previous gas leases including a lease south of the remaining Whicher lease and a portion of a lease that previously covered the town of Brunswick,” she said.
“Exploration permit 408 covering Whicher Range is the next in line to be returned to the government.
“We would also like Exploration Permit 496, covering 668 square kilometres of the South West from Bunbury to Busselton, Dardanup to Donnybrook-Balingup, cancelled.
“The South West is far too valuable as a food growing and tourism area to risk being turned into an industrialised gasfield.”