The issues to be considered are the chances of successfully bringing about a review of the SSEP on the basis of the critical nature of environmental issues raised and options available for litigation and arbitration, should the need arise. The major legal aspects that arise in this connection are the standing provisions available to members of the public, EIA provisions and the status of the Great Barrier Reefs as a Heritage area.
Oil shale is a sedimentary rock which contains the hydrocarbon Kerogen or fossilized algae, which can only be liberated by the application of heat, so that the hydrocarbon is released as vapor which when cooled becomes oil1. Gladstone in the Queensland area has about 20 billion barrels worth of shale oil available from silica based deposits that are projected to provide enough oil for Australia for 50 years.2 However the problem with the use of oil shales is that there are higher emissions of greenhouse gases produced. The Stuart Oil Shale project was developed at Gladstone by Southern Pacific Petroleum and the Queensland Government had approved the Company’s Environmental Impact Statement and approved stage 1 of the project.3 The trial Plant has been in operation until it was transferred to the Queensland Energy resources (Management) Pty Ltd after February 20044 with simultaneous environmental assessment being carried out.5
The Ross Smith Energy group of Calgary, Canada carried out an independent assessment of the Shale oil project as Gladstone and offered a positive assessment, although it qualified in its report that the relative benefits of the ATP technology being used would have to be determined during the second stage.6 There was widespread opposition from members of the public and environmental groups to the shale oil project at Gladstone due to its adverse environmental impact. Greenhouse emissions from stage 2 were projected to be four times higher than that of normal oil