The Queensland Government has announced that it will allow the development of a commercial oil shale industry under ‘strict environmental conditions’.

State Natural Resources and Mines Minister, Andrew Cripps, said the new oil shale policy will set rigorous environmental controls on the industry and will allow existing oil shale operator QER Limited to progress its trial plant at Gladstone to commercial stage.

“Queensland currently has around 90 per cent of Australia’s known oil shale resources, which are equivalent to approximately 22 billion barrels of oil,” Mr Cripps said.

“As the world supply of conventional crude oil diminishes, there are strong prospects for oil shale to become the next major source of liquid fuel supplies in Australia, and Queensland is well placed to lead that charge.

“The industry has the potential to create thousands of new jobs in the construction phase alone, and provide royalties and other economic benefits for our regional communities and the broader economy, which is great news for Queensland.”

Minister Cripps said the new oil shale policy would:

  • recognise the strategic importance of oil shale to contribute to energy security, and encourage private sector investment in high quality oil shale extracting technologies
  • ensure project proponents must first demonstrate their oil shale technology will meet high environmental standards and community expectations
  • allow, in general, the consideration and development of other oil shale deposits in Queensland, pending thorough environmental assessment on a project by project basis
  • continue the existing 20-year moratorium suspending development of the McFarlane oil shale deposit near Proserpine until 2028

Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection, Andrew Powell, emphasised that strict environmental controls would apply to any proposal to mine and process oil shale.

“To date, there has been extremely limited commercial application of oil shale in Australia and overseas,” Mr Powell said.