A BILLIONAIRE sheikh Hamad bin Hamdan Al Nahyan from the royal family in the United Arab Emirates — who made his fortune through oil — has refused the exploration attempts of an oil and gas company on his pastoral property in Central Australia.
The actions have raised questions regarding the right of veto being sought by pastoralists when it comes to exploration, specifically foreign owned properties.
More than 45 cattle stations in the NT are foreign-owned.
Sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan is worth an estimated $20 billion.
Sheikh Hamad bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, dubbed the rainbow sheikh due to his collection of different coloured Mercedes Benz, owns Idracowra Station, a 462,800ha property 190km south of Alice Springs on the Stuart Hwy.
The Al Nahyan family is one of the six ruling families of the United Arab Emirates.
He is reportedly twice as rich as mining magnate Gina Rinehart —around $20 billion — and he’s one of the world’s largest car collectors with up to 400 cars and trucks.
Idracowra Station was highlighted by Santos vice president exploration Bill Overton during the recent public hearings at the hydraulic fracturing inquiry.
He was using it as an example where land access was not always agreed to and gas companies did not “bully” their way through.
APPEA NT director Matt Doman would not speculate on the “individual’s motivations” for frustrating the attempts by Santos but said it highlighted the land access issue.
“Australia’s natural resources belong to all Australians, or more specifically the states and territories in which they live,” he said.
“It is appropriate that decisions about resource development are made by their elected governments, not just the individuals who own or lease the land where development may occur.
“In the case where those landholders are foreign interests, it is even less appropriate that they be empowered to block the development of Australian resources.
“However, it is important that landholders have the opportunity to agree the terms of access to their land.
“In the NT, government approvals for the start of any oil and gas-related activity will not be granted in the absence of an access agreement.”
Sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan has one of the largest car collections in the world.
The website for the company, Shoujaa Trust Pty Ltd, does not list any telephone numbers and all communication is completed by either email or online form submission including for jobs or purchasing cattle.
The station is currently selling “Micky Bulls”.
The NT News contacted the Australian office of the sheikh for comment but did not receive a response by last night.
Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison — who is yet to visit the NT as Treasurer — has previously been outspoken on foreign ownership when considering the bids for iconic cattle company Kidman & Co.
But he did not respond to specific questions regarding foreign ownership, access and resource development.
“Foreign investment has underpinned the development of our nation and we must continue to attract the strong inflows of foreign capital that our economy requires,” he said.
“The foreign investment framework facilitates such investment while giving assurance to the Australian community that the investment is being made in a way that does not compromise Australia’s national interest.”
There are more than 50 land access agreements between pastoralists and the gas industry with Santos having 29 in the NT and more than 1450 in Queensland.