PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Oil and gas major Santos has received approval from the New South Wales Department of Planning for its proposed Narrabri gas project.
The report will now go to the New South Wales Independent Planning Commission (IPC), which is conducting public hearings and will make a final determination within 12 weeks of receiving the department’s assessment.
Santos MD and CEO Kevin Gallagher on Friday said that the decision on Narrabri was more important than ever, as the economy came out of hibernation from the coronavirus restrictions.
“Narrabri means more gas jobs and more investment in New South Wales and the local region and lower gas and electricity prices for customers in the state. We welcome the positive recommendation from the New South Wales Department of Planning and the sensible, independent planning process the project is going through.”
The Department of Planning’s approval of the Narrabri project comes just days after the of the Coal Seam Gas (CSG) Moratorium Bill through the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, which if implemented, could halt the development of CSG projects in the state.
Responding to questions on Friday, federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor said that projects like Narrabri were important to secure domestic supply of gas.
“We strongly welcome more gas coming into the market. We did a state deal with the New South Wales government on energy a few months back. We asked them to get another 70 PJ into the market which is about the production of Narrabri,” Taylor told the ABC.
“We need more gas in the system, Mel. It is crucially important if we want to have a strong manufacturing sector, if we want to have affordable energy in this country, and if we want to reduce emissions.
“That's a very, very important point. Gas helps us to reduce emissions in the UK, even in the US you're seeing gas playing an enormously important role in facilitating more household solar, for instance, into the marketplace.”
Taylor allayed fears around the Narrabri project, saying that the environmental approvals processes were in place to ensure that CSG projects would not be harmful to the environment.
Gallagher for his part has said that Santos was relying on the best science to confirm that the project could be developed safely and sustainably, without harm to water resources or the environment.
“Narrabri is the cheapest source of gas for New South Wales customers, and without New South Wales developing its own gas resources, its businesses and households will continue to face higher energy costs than across the border in Queensland,” Gallagher said.
Santos has committed to 100% of the Narrabri gas going to the domestic market.
The Narrabri project has the potential to supply sufficient natural gas to meet up to half of the New South Wales natural gas demands, he added.
“The time for political games is over. We want to get on with creating jobs in New South Wales and Narrabri and making a real difference to people’s lives in rural and regional communities,” Gallagher said.
Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association on Friday seconded the importance of Narrabri, with CEO Andrew McConville saying the project would play an important role in the state’s recovery.
“The Narrabri gas project could be a huge win for local communities and NSW as a whole. Allowing the IPC to do its job and independently assess the merits of the project is a critical step for the project’s success.
“A decision on Narrabri is more important than ever, for manufacturing and businesses throughout the state,” McConville said.