Two of WA's resources titans are at odds over the prospects of the onshore gas industry amid claims by one that it is destined to be a marginal player in the State's energy landscape.
Michael Chaney, the chairman of oil and gas giant Woodside and one of the State's best known business leaders, has said onshore oil and gas would not be a "game-changer".
Veteran Mines and Petroleum Minister Norman Moore, a fervent backer of the industry, dismissed the suggestion, saying unconventional gas would be crucial to WA's energy security.
The disagreement between the two resources heavyweights came ahead of a conference in Perth today to discuss the industry in WA and how it will influence the State's energy future.
Onshore oil and gas is emerging in WA but has courted controversy here and elsewhere because it uses a gas exploration technique known as hydraulic fracturing - or "fracking".
Although the sector disputes the claims, fracking has been linked to contaminated groundwater and seismic instability and has been banned or restricted in several countries and Australian States.
It has also drawn criticism from farmers, who say it jeopardises their water supplies and land rights.
Asked whether he thought it would become a major industry in WA, Mr Chaney said: "I doubt it.
"There may be some in the Canning Basin and there may be small discoveries made in the Perth Basin and onshore in the Carnarvon Basin but they are unlikely to be game-changers."
Mr Moore, who will retire from State politics after the election, said he disagreed and insisted fracking held the key to unlocking gas supplies that could last hundreds of years.
"I'm very bullish about this and I hope it comes off," Mr Moore said.
"But I should make the point that it's very much in the infancy stage.
"There's a lot of this happening in the United States but we're a long way behind them - we don't have any drilling rigs in WA."But it has got a future, which I think will really start to assert itself in five to 10 years time."
'The West Australian' is a trademark of West Australian Newspapers Limited 2013.
All rights reserved.
Select your state to see news for your area.