PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (Appea) is lamenting the passing of the Coal Seam Gas (CSG) Moratorium Bill through the New South Wales Legislative Assembly late on Wednesday.
Appea CEO Andrew McConville said on Thursday that if the Bill was implemented, it would condemn New South Wales to higher gas prices and a slower economic recovery, particularly in regions like Narrabri that are already struggling after years of drought and the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This Bill is a hammer blow to the economic wellbeing of regional New South Wales at a time that the state needs investment and certainty following the devastating impacts of bushfires and Covid-19.
“A decision on Narrabri is more important than ever, for manufacturing and businesses throughout the state.”
The Narrabri project, being developed by major Santos, will have a mine life of over 20 years and will consist of up to 850 gas wells and ancillary infrastructure, including gas processing and water treatment facilities.
The project is currently with the government’s Independent Planning Commission for assessment.
If the Bill was implemented, the Narrabri community would miss out on significant community investment, including the A$15-million Voluntary Planning Agreement with the Narrabri Shire Council to invest in improved infrastructure at the Narrabri Airport, more maintenance for local roads, beautification of the Narrabri sports and tourism precinct, library relocation to allow expansion of the Country University and many other valuable community initiatives, McConville said.
“The Bill ignores the proven track record of the onshore gas industry in Queensland, where thousands of jobs have been created, billions of dollars invested in regional communities, and hundreds of millions of dollars paid to farmers, with no significant environmental impacts and over 66 000 GL of water returned to farmers for their beneficial use, or injected back into aquifers.
“The only way to put downward pressure on gas prices for customers, including manufacturers, is to increase supply and competition. The Narrabri project does just that. Virtue signalling to a small and vocal minority risks making all of New South Wales more vulnerable.”
Greens group Lock the Gate Alliance has meanwhile welcomed support for the Bill, with spokesperson Georgina Woods saying that the Narrabri project was not the only one in the firing line, should the Bill be passed.
“This is not just about Santos’ Narrabri project, as destructive as it may be. There are still 12 expired petroleum licences that cover much of the north west of New South Wales, which could be reignited if the Narrabri project gets the go ahead.
“Farmers have been through enough, particularly with the severe drought that has been hanging over their heads for years now. It is time our politicians recognised that and did their bit to thank the people who supply our food and fibre and supported this Bill.”