Outside the Buru Energy Annual General Meeting (AGM) 20-30 people gathered in support of Traditional Custodians Micklo Corpus Yawuru and Dr Anne Poelina, a Nyikina Warrwa woman from the West Kimberley region of Western Australia. Noongar Elder Uncle Ben Taylor, accompanied by Mick Fuller on didgeridoo, did an official Welcome to Country. Both confirmed to the gathering their appreciation for the support and were encouraged by fellow Australians to attend the AGM.
Micklo and Anne attended the Buru Energy AGM to speak to the shareholders, directors and CEO. Buru Energy is an Australian-owned company whose previous attempts to open the Canning Basin in the Kimberley for conventional oil and gas had resulted in ongoing delays to its fracking program. The company had fallen well behind in schedule resulting in Buru Energy selling its unconventional gas development in the Canning Basin to Mitsubishi.
The Kimberley has not yet been urbanised, industrialised or commercialised. Traditional Custodians have been living on and caring for the land for thousands of years. Yet Buru Energy wanted to turn the Kimberley into an industrialised pin-cushion and risk destruction of its land, water and ecosystems. 96% of Yawuru Traditional Custodians are opposed to Buru’s operations and Micklo Corpus, a Yawuru Traditional Custodian, has been camping in protest for nearly three years.
Anne reflected on Buru Energy Executive Chairman/CEO Eric Streitberg’s comments that the relationship with Mitsubishi was ‘an amicable divorce’ and he was confident the previous WA Government’s State Agreement conditions for Mitsubishi would still stand. Mention was made of the proposed WA inquiry into fracking and the need for the company to see how this would unfold. The focus for Buru Energy is to maximise exploration and investor returns on the extraction of conventional oil from their Ungani sites. He also confirmed, should Buru Energy need to consider fracking the Ungani area for the remaining reservoirs of oil in this field, then this “would require a new agreement with the traditional owners of this area”.
Anne told shareholders they should consider investing in the abundance of Kimberley renewable energy; solar, wave, tidal and geothermal and to consider divestment away from the fossil fuel industries. Anne also addressed Eric Streitberg who she has been emailing for months and questioned why he has never responded. Following the AGM Mr Steitberg met with both custodians. Micklo raised concerns over the company’s response to the leak to one of Buru’s wells last year. Micklo also offered supporting footage of the event however, Mr Streitberg made no comment on the incident except to respond to Micklo by saying, ‘we need to rebuild trust between the two of us as things have not been good’. Eric was reminded by Anne that her latest effort included a registered letter. Eric acknowledged the document and said to Anne he ‘thought it was a present’. Anne was quick to respond with ‘it’s instructions on how to save the planet!’
Anne is a long-time advocate for water stewardship and broad stakeholder regional governance of cultural, environmental and rangeland heritage. Both Micklo and Anne have been vocal in protecting country, advocating for their communities and investment in the new economies of the Kimberley; science, culture, heritage, conservation and wild harvesting of bush foods and medicines.
Special thanks to Anne and Micklo for traveling 2,000 kilometres to protect country and speak directly to the board and CEO of Buru. Thanks also to everyone who generously contributed to the crowdfunder to enable this to happen and to our friends at The Wilderness Society for providing contact and support, and sharing the photos they took while on the Kimberley Custodian Support trip.
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