PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Oil and gas major Santos has inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Natural Soda to use salt removed from produced water as part of the Narrabri gas project, in New South Wales.
The two companies have been working together for more than 12 months on a commercially-viable model that could create a new sodium bicarbonate industry for Narrabri and Australia, bringing more local jobs to the region.
Santos MD and CEO Kevin Gallagher said the MoU is a commitment from both Santos and Natural Soda to complete a concept study that will inform a final investment decision to produce sodium bicarbonate in Narrabri.
“Australia doesn’t have a bicarbonate industry, so we import it for use in food, pharmaceuticals and a wide range of industrial uses. These are the benefits that would come from the Narrabri gas project; new industries, more jobs, business opportunities and regional development,” Gallagher said.
“The partnership with Natural Soda demonstrates how our industry continues to evolve and explore new ways of beneficial use for products that previously would have been considered waste.
“The water Santos extracts is of no use to farmers because of the salt content, so we treat the water to a very high standard that is suitable for irrigation, stock watering and other purposes. The salt removed from the water is a natural product and, if our concept study is successful, could be converted into valuable sodium bicarbonate.
“That’s a win-win. It creates a new industry, more jobs, it’s good for the environment and good for farming. However, if things don’t work out as we hope, the water will still be able to be used for irrigation and the salt removed from the water will be disposed of in accordance with all waste laws,” Gallagher said.
While Santos has received approval from the New South Wales Department of Planning for the proposed Narrabri gas project, a Coal Seam Gas (CSG) Moratorium Bill was introduced through the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, which if implemented, could halt the development of CSG projects in the state.
The project was also still subject to approval from the New South Wales Independent Planning Commission, which is conducting public hearings.
“As we come out of Covid-19, every new industry and job is more important than ever. The Narrabri gas project means more jobs and more investment in New South Wales and lower gas and electricity prices for customers in New South Wales,” Gallagher said on Monday.
Santos has committed 100% of Narrabri gas to the domestic market. The Narrabri gas project has the potential to supply enough natural gas to meet up to half of New South Wales’s natural gas demand where more than one-million family homes, around 33 000 businesses and around 300 000 jobs rely on natural gas as a source of energy.