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Thursday, 17 November 1938

Mr McEwen n. - On the 10th Novem ber, the honorable member for Wimmera (Mr. Wilson) asked the following, questions, upon notice -

1.   Has he, on behalf of the Government., refused to agree to assistance being given to companies engaged in the production of oil at. Lakes Entrance. Victoria?

2.   Has he given as a. reason that, the companies engaged in the production were not strong enough financially to proceed with the task ?

3.   Is . it a fact that the production from Foster'sbore and mid-west wells in Gippsland, revealed higher tests than the daily average coming from Pennsylvanian wells in the United States of America?

4.   What proportion of the Commonwealth grant for oil search has been spent in Gippsland?

5.   Has the department authorized the sealing of wells for the reason that pebbles might be dropped down them?

6.   If the wells are sufficiently good to. warrant protection from pebbles, are they valuable enough to assist to economic production, in view ofthe fact that oil is essential to Australia's welfare and safety?

7.   What are the functions of the Commonwealth Oil Advisory Committee?

8.   Has this body refused to give technical advice to companies engaged in the production of oil?

9.   Who are the members of this committee and what are their qualifications?

10.   Have they had any practical experience in the . production of oil, and, if so. what, when, where, and for what periods?

1   1 . In view of the fact that the drilling subsidy for the Imray Well at Lakes Entrance was stopped when the company struck oil, in what direction is the Government offering every encouragement in the search for oil?

12.   What is his reply to a recent statement by a State Premier that the Commonwealth has failed in its obligations towards oil production ?

13.   If an amendment of the Petroleum Oil Search Act is necessary to give effective assistance to oil companies, willhe state why an amending billhas not been introduced? 14.How much money has been spent on oil search in New Guinea and other fields?

The information desired by the honorable member is as follows: -

1.   It is not possible under the provisions of the Petroleum Oil Search Acts 1936, to afford assistance to companies for any purposes other than the search for oil.

2.   No.

3.   I am advised that this is not so.

4.   During the last four years £118,191 has been spent by the Commonwealth under the Petroleum Prospecting Act and the Petroleum Oil Search Acts. Of this amount £21,230 has been spent in Gippsland.

5.   The department requested that the Imray Well in Gippsland should be sealed following the completion of drilling operations in respect of which the operating company received an advance under the acts. This is the standard practice on oilfields and is an obvious measure for the protection of the borehole.

6.   Not necessarily.

7.   The Commonwealth Oil Advisory Committee was appointed to advise the Commonwealth Government in the administration of the Petroleum Oil Search Acts. 8 No.

9.   Dr. ArthurWade, chairman, Doctor of Science; Bachelor of Science (first class honours geology); Murchison Medallist and King's Medallist for Geology; Associate of the Royal College of Science; Fellow of the Geological Society, Member of the Institute Mining and Metallurgy; Member of the Institution of Petroleum Technology; Fellow of Geographical Society of America; Member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists; formerly lecturer on petroleum at the Royal School of Mines. Dr. L. Keith Ward, Doctor of Science; Bachelor of Arts; Bachelor of Engineering; Government Geologist and Directorof Mines for the State of South Australia. Mr. W. C. Thomas, (Department of the Treasury), business adviser.

10.   Dr. Wadehas had 31 years practical experience in all phases of geology, drilling and production in the United States of America, Egypt, Dutch East Indies, Poland, Greece, Trinidad, Venezuela, Columbia, Algeria, Papua and other countries. The committee has the assistance of Mr. E. A. Kodyen, a Canadian, who occupies the position of Commonwealth Drilling Inspector. Mr. Kodyen is Member of the Institution of Petroleum Technologists, who has had 25 years' experience in all phases of drilling and production in Canada, the United States of America, Persia, Irak, Greece and Afghanistan. He has occupied the position of district superinten dent for the Anglo-Iranian Company in Persia, held manager for the NearEast Petroleum Company, assistant superintendent for the British Oil Development Company in Irak, and general manager for theRockton Oil and Gas Company in Canada.

11.   The final drillingof the Imray Well was made by the company's own driller in the presence of the Oil Advisory Committee and Mr. Kodyen, the Drilling Inspector. On the advice of those gentlemen drilling was stopped when it was considered that the drill had penetrated into the oil sands to a point beyond which there would have been danger of letting water into the well. The company accepted the advice of the Commonwealth Government's, experts that drilling should cease at this stage. Subsequently the well was tested for production of oil, which proved to be in the nature of a few gallons a day. The Oil Advisory Committee considered that nothing further could be usefully done in that well and thereupon intimated to the company that no further advance in regard to this well would be granted, and that it should be plugged in a certain manner at the bottom and sealed for protection at the top. Immediately afterwards the company was advised that if it were able to comply with the statutory requirements, the committee would recommenda further advance for the boring of another well' in accordance with a pre-arranged programme.

12.   I know of no such statement, which, if made, wouldnot be in accordance with facts.

13.   No amendment of the Petroleum Oil Search Acts is necessary to give assistance to companies engaged in the search for oil.

14.   No advances have been made from the Petroleum Oil Search Trust Account for the search for oil outside Australia.

Grants fob Mineral Research.

Mr Casey - On Thursday, the 13th October, 1038, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Green), asked the Minister for the Interior the following questions, upon notice: -

1.   When were the last grants for prospecting for gold made by the Commonwealth to the various States and the Northern Territory?

2.   What were the respective amounts granted to the States concerned and the Northern Territory, and for what periods?

3.   Will an amount be made available for this purpose on the current year's Estimates? If so, how much, and how will it be allotted?

4.   When was the last grant made for any other minerals, includingoil, stated separately for the localities mentioned?

5.   What are the amounts, if any, to be made available for all minerals, other than goldprospecting, on this year's Estimates?

The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows: -

1.   Grants to assist prospecting were authorized by the loan Appropriation (Unemployment Relief) Act of 1934-35 and a revenue' Appropriation (Unemployment Relief) Act of 1936.These grants were made in respect of metalliferous mining generally and not solely for gold, but in actual fact most of the grants went to gold prospectors.

2.   -


The period covered so far as the States are concerned was from January, 1935 to June, 1938. In addition about £38,000 was appropriated under annual votes for the Northern Territory.

3.   No amounts are being made available for the States on the current year's Estimates. For the Northern Territory the following amounts have been provided: -


4.   As explained in the answer to question 1, practically the whole of these grants were for gold prospecting. £250,000 was placed in a trust account in 1935-36 under the provisions of the Petroleum Oil Search Acts 1936. From this account advances are made to approved persons and companies in respect of approved operations. Since the beginning of 1937 advances have been made to companies operating at Lakes Entrance and Longford, Victoria, Mulgoa and Kulnura, New South Wales, and Roma, Mount Bassett, Hutton Creek and Arcadia, Queensland.

5.   No additional appropriation for prospecting is proposed in 1938-39, except £24.000 for Northern Territory for assistance to gold mining. A balance of £167,000 still exists in the Petroleum' Oil Search Trust Account from which further advances may be made.

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