Santos Gets Okay for Oz Narrabri CBM Project
Australian explorer Santos on September 30 said the New South Wales (NSW) Independent Planning Commission (IPC) had given a conditional greenlight to the company’s Narrabri coalbed methane (CBM) project.
“Santos accepts the conditions proposed by the IPC and will now work with the federal department of agriculture, water and environment as it considers its recommendation to the minister on EPBC Act approval,” it said. Key to this recommendation will be that the NSW's assessment process has adequately addressed all relevant matters of national environmental significance.
The project got the state government approval in June. It has been mired in controversy as many activists say it poses a risk to the local environment. Santos has always denied these claims.
Santos CEO Kevin Gallagher said the NSW government and IPC process had been comprehensive, transparent and inclusive, providing the community with confidence that the project has been properly evaluated and determined to be in the public interest while posing no risk to water resources or the environment.
"Santos is excited about the prospect of developing the Narrabri Gas Project, a 100% domestic gas project that can provide the lowest cost source of gas for NSW customers," Gallagher said. "This major step forward is welcome, but we must now gain the approval of the federal minister for the environment under the EPBC Act as well as other subsequent approvals."
While these approval processes are under way, Santos said it would start planning for workover activities immediately on existing wells under its current exploration tenures. Once all approvals are in place, this will be followed by a 12 to 18-month appraisal drilling programme, which will include an expansion of the water monitoring network. This appraisal will inform the final plans for the phased development of the project, it said.
According to Santos, the project has the potential to supply enough gas to meet up to half of NSW’s demand.
The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (Appea) called the decision an important step towards supporting jobs and economic recovery in NSW.
“The clearest way to put downward pressure on gas prices for customers, including manufacturers, is to increase supply and competition. The Narrabri project does just that. This is an important outcome for energy security and reliability for the state of NSW,” Appea CEO Andrew McConville said.