Origin Energy faces heat over Northern Territory gas drilling plans

  • Oct 21, 2020
  • Age

Origin Energy's plans to drill for gas in the Northern Territory's Beetaloo Basin have come under scrutiny, with shareholders raising concerns about global warming and some Indigenous groups warning the project threatens sacred water systems.

The proposal to conduct hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" – injecting water, sand and chemicals into underground rock to force the extraction of gas – dominated Origin's investor meeting on Tuesday. Investors quizzed Origin's management on how opening up one of the largest gas basins in the country aligned with the goal of the Paris accord to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees.

Origin Energy is conducting exploratory gas drilling in the Northern Territory's Beetaloo Basin.

"Why are you planning to increase your production of gas as a bridge to fully renewable power?" one shareholder asked. "Are there not sufficient signs that the planet is in crisis to turn away from gas not to increase its production?"

Other shareholders and proxy holders also queried the rationale behind pursuing the costly and controversial Beetaloo project given the commercial, environmental, social and brand risks it carries, which could "destroy shareholder value".

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