Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 11 April 1973


Mr CONNOR (Cunningham) (Minister for Minerals and Energy) - by leave - Clause 13 of the Commonwealth-State Agreement on Offshore Petroleum Resources provides as follows:

A State government will, when so requested by the Commonwealth Government, ensure that copies of the returns, reports, maps, notifications, logs, records, and the like material and adequate portions of all cores, cuttings and samples that are received by it or its authorities by virtue of the operation of the Common Mining Code in relation to the adjacent area of the State are, as soon as reasonably practicable after receipt, forwarded to the Commonwealth Government.

A complete flow of information is of course essential for many purposes, not the least of which is to enable the best evaluations by the Commonwealth of new discoveries and extensions to existing discoveries.

Shortly after taking office I learnt of deficiencies in the receipt by the Commonwealth of this material, deficiencies long continuing which I regret to say had not previously been remedied by the enforcement of the Commonwealth's right to the information. On 25th November 1968, following the introduction of the offshore petroleum legislation, the Commonwealth forwarded to the States an agreed list of requirements for technical reports and data. It was left to the Designated Authority in each State to decide whether permit holders forwarded information or material for the Commonwealth direct to the Bureau of Mineral Resources, when it was also being sent to him, or whether he should receive 2 copies, etc., including one for transmission to the Bureau. The list of Commonwealth requirements was amended at the second meeting of the Australian Minerals Council on 3rd March 1969. This amended list, incorporating explanatory notes which made the Commonwealth's requirements quite clear, was forwarded to the various State Mines Departments on 21st March 1969. The Mines Department of Western Australia replied on 2nd May 1969 that arrangements would be made for the amended requirements for technical reports and data to be implemented.

On 3rd November 1969 the Director of the Bureau of Mineral Resources reported that the situation was not satisfactory; on 23rd March 1971 he reported that Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales were not complying with the terms of the Commonwealth-State Agreement; on 29th March 1972 he reported deficiencies in the flow of information and requested urgent action to ask South Australia and Western Australia for all information and material obtained in accordance with the CommonwealthState Agreement. On 5th April 1972 the Under-Secretary for Mines in Western Australia wrote accordingly to the various companies involved. Nevertheless, a good deal of information was still not received by the Commonwealth and on 18th August 1972 all State Mines Departments were reminded of the Commonwealth's requirements. On 18th December 1972 the Under-Secretary for Mines in Western Australia forwarded for comment a draft letter to oil exploration companies operating in Western Australia concerning the supply of information, to which the Secretary of my Department replied on 11th January 1973. On 18th January 1973 he advised the Under-Secretary of the information which the Director of the Bureau of Mineral Resources had that day reported as not having been received.

After further exchanges the Under-Secretary wrote to the companies on 1st February 1973 about the deficiencies. On 2nd March 1973 the Acting Director of the Bureau of Mineral Resources reported that there was then no backlog of material from Western Australia in respect of wells or geophysical surveys, that the situation was generally satisfactory in regard to the receipt of current statutory and operational material and that there was still some delay in the receipt of weekly progress reports but action to rectify this had been taken. On 8th March the Director advised that the Bureau's assessment of gas reserves on the north-west shelf should be completed by 1 9th April.

Honourable members will readily appreciate the importance of evaluating reserves. As I said in this House on 3rd April my predecessor wrote to Woodside-Burmah Oil NL on 26th October 1972 expressing the need, in Australia's interests, for an announcement on reserves. His letter, together with the company's reply and the letter of the then Minister for National Development of 30th November I now seek leave to table in association with other papers. I interpose that in the letter referred to, my predecessor, Sir Reginald Swartz, drew the attention of the WoodsideBurmah interests to the concern of his Department as to the failure of the company to make an adequate disclosure of public information as to the recoverable, reserves of natural gas which it had discovered. He also expressed concern as to the impact of such nondisclosure on the Australian equity in the shares of that company. The documents which 1 seek leave to table are as follows:

A- Letter dated 25th November 1968 to State Departments of Mines listing reports and data required by Designated Authorites, to be taken as the Commonwealth's request for technical reports, etc.

B- Letter dated 21st March 1969 to Slate Departments of Mines seeking their agreement with, and implementation of, revised list of reports and data accepted by tile Australian Minerals Council.

C - Reply of 2nd May 1969 by Mines Department of Western Australia to letter of 21sl March 1969.

D - Letter of 5lh April 1972 sent to companies by Mines Department of Western Australia.

E - Letter of 18th August 1972 to Slate Mines Departments.

F - Letter of 18th December 1972 from Mines Department of Western Australia.

G - Teleprint of 8th January 1973, from Mines Department of Western Australia, advising that Burmah Oil Co. will send reports to Goodwyn No. 2, North Rankin No. 2 and Angel No. 3 immediately.

H - Teleprint of 11th January 1973 to Mines Department of Western Australia.

I - Teleprint of 18th January 1973 to Mines Department of Western Australia.

J - Teleprint of 22nd January 1973 from Mines Department of Western Australia.

K.   - Teleprint of 25th January 1973 to Mines Department of Western Australia.

L - Telegram of 1st February 1973 to Mines Department of Western Australia.

M - Teleprint of 2nd February 1973 from Mines Department of Western Australia.

N - Letter of 1st February 1973 sent to various companies by Mines Department of Western Australia.

O - Letter of 9th March from Burmah Oil Co. of Australia Ltd to Secretary, Department of Minerals and Energy,

P - Reply of ]9th March 1973 by the Secretary, Department of Minerals and Energy to the letter of 9lh March.

Q - Note by Secretary, Department of Minerals and Energy of telephone conversation with Burmah Oil Co. of Australia Ltd on 2nd April 1973.

This compendious list of papers in itself provides a complete summary of the overall position.







Suggest corrections