SA Mines and Energy Journal : December 2010 - January 2011
DECEMBER 2010/JANUARY 2011 SA MINES & ENERGY JOURNAL 40 ARTISTIC LICENCE Beauty in the Basin The Cooper Basin is located in South Australia's North- East corner, straddling the Queensland border. Oil and gas were discovered in the area in the 1960s and it is now one of Australia's major oil and gas producing provinces, meeting over a third of the nation's domestic gas demand and producing significant quantities of crude oil and petroleum for export and domestic use. The basin contains over 148 gas fields and 107 oil fields and is currently being explored for its massive unconventional gas and geothermal resources. Recording one of the lowest rainfalls in Australia, the region is arid and dominated by desert dune fields. However, the Cooper Creek floodplains are a major feature, covering the central third of the basin. The floodplains come to life when the Cooper Creek floods as a result of high rainfall in the area and in Queensland, where the rivers Thomson and Barcoo (that merge to form the creek) originate. The result is an intricate and breathtaking network of meandering channels. The creek floods to some extent every year, but this year has seen flood waters reach Lake Eyre for the first time in nearly two decades. Flooding of the creek has been at the highest levels since 1974. Jason Kuchel, SACOME's Chief Executive, visited Santos' Cooper Basin operations in September and took some stunning aerial photographs of the landscape. Mr Kuchel is a keen amateur photographer and always ensures the camera is packed for site visits. "The Cooper Basin looks amazing at the moment; with the extraordinary flooding this year the landscape is really starting to flourish. It's fantastic scenery on foot, but when viewed from above you can fully appreciate the patterns in the landscape, " he said. Although the extensive flooding this year is spectacular and makes for striking photography, the impact on explorers, producers and transport operators in the area has been widespread. This looks to continue into the near future, with rainfall in the area remaining high. Extraordinary flooding in the Cooper Basin this year hindered explorers and producers, but made for spectacular photography. Megan Andrews reports.