Letter to Premier re Narrabri Gas

No Narrabri gasfield art on carboard

Dear Premier,

The media has reported that you will be meeting Santos CEO, Kevin Gallagher, during this week to talk about approval of the Narrabri Gas Project.

This project has united Gomeroi people, farmers, environmentalists, unionists, scientists and economists, a feat politicians can only dream of! I am a member of the environmental group the Sydney Knitting Nannas & Friends, and we are among the diverse groups coming together to strongly oppose this project.

Our objections include the risks to the Great Artesian Basin and other water resources, damage to cultural heritage, threatened species and food security.

I’m sure you will remember that nearly 23,000 people lodged objections to the Santos EIS. A high level of awareness of the irreparable damage to country and high emissions remains in the community. The tragic impacts of extreme weather events that have resulted from global warming have increased public concern about the expansion of gas mining in NSW.

Santos has no social licence in NSW. Many landholders will not grant Santos access to build infrastructure, or to explore for new gas on the Liverpool Plains in the hope of making the Pilliga project financially viable. Their resolve to oppose the project should not be underestimated.

After 25 years of coal seam gas extraction, a recent report on Queensland’s gasfields points out the problems still not solved[1].

  • No safe way to dispose of the wastewater, salts and toxins brought to the surface from the coal seams.
  • Dewatering coal seams causes subsidence and bores to dry up
  • Australia’s largest insurance company, Insurance Australia Group (IAG), will no longer cover farmers for any non-farming related public liability if they have CSG infrastructure on their property

Coal seam gas companies are notorious for

  • Ignoring property biosecurity rules and trespass signs, entering properties and pressuring landholders to sign access agreements which favour the company (Recently, Santos has been doing this along the Hunter Gas Pipeline route.)
  • Not ‘making good’ bores or other damage unless a non-disclosure agreements is signed
  • Drilling horizontally up to 800m allowing gas extraction up to 2000ha for each well pad. So extraction can happen beneath people’s properties without their knowledge.

Please keep in mind the following when you meet with Mr Gallagher.

  • The more gas Santos extracts the more it will be able to export.
  • Demand for domestic gas is dropping as people disconnect and go electric. Victoria and ACT have successful “Go off Gas” campaigns, and NSW could do the same to free up gas supplies for industrial consumers.
  • A decision by the Australian Native Title Tribunal is pending to determine if Santos can go ahead with the project without the consent of the native title claimants, the Gomeroi. Both sides are likely to contest the decision.
  • Documents released early this month reveal significant coal seam gas well leaks from corrosion in Queensland. [2] Groundwater, including the Great Artesian Basin may be contaminated.
  • Research has shown that gas wells fail. There is no system for long term monitoring and rehabilitation of the wells to be funded by Santos.
  • The Hunter Gas Pipeline goes through at least two flood plains and recent events at Bathurst have highlighted why this should not be allowed.
  • Gas import terminals are being built and will deliver cheaper gas sooner.
  • Carbon capture and storage is not proven technology for low-cost, large-scale emissions reduction.

We urge you to resist pressure from Mr Gallagher and to adopt alternatives to the Santos project in the interests of the people of NSW.

[1] Coal Seam Gas Mining – An Assault on Farming Land, Water Resources and Property Rights 

[2] 1/11/2020 New documents reveal corrosion, leaking in coal seam gas wells in Queensland, raising contamination fears. ABC News 

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