Slugcatcher on the return of Yes Minister, in the great oil game

Focus of the script would be plans to drill a stratigraphic test well in the south-west corner of the Canning Basin of WA, complete with glowing Ministerial testimonials and hints that something big awaits discovery.

But rounding off the story is a cameo performance by some of The Slugs' colleagues in the media who have displayed an even greater ignorance of the oil and gas industry than the Ministers.

The opening scene in "Yes Ministers, The Great Oil Game" is a breathless announcement from Federal Resources Minister, Matt Canavan, and his State equivalent, the WA Petroleum Minister, Bill Johnson.

It was these two, no doubt advised by media secretaries and political spin doctors, who issued the original statement which said the 2200 metre test well would "help scope out exciting new resources in the (Canning Basin) region, paving the way for new investment and jobs".

No harm done there, though the next phase of the joint statement cited a Geoscience Australia estimate of there being the potential for 43 billion barrels of recoverable shale oil in the Canning, plus 390 trillion cubic feet of gas is when eyebrows start to rise.

But how relevant is it to quote potential recoverable resources for something that would require decades of drilling, perhaps hundreds of holes, and even then find that the remote location means the entire exercise is uneconomic because there is a very limited local markets and abundant nearby conventional offshore oil and gas competition.

The formal statemen....

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