Santos’ Response to Submissions

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NSW Government monitoring bore in The Pilliga

Santos’ Response to Submissions to the Narrabri Gas Project was released on 23 April 2018 and is on the NSW Government Planning & Environment website.  The project now moves into the government assessment phase of the approval process.

A brief appraisal of Santos Response to Submissions reveals –

  1. The project has been delayed a year.
  2. A final investment decision has not been made due to the timing of approval, further appraisal and exploration.
  3. Over the life of the project an average of only 540 full time jobs will be created.
  4. Santos needs to make a development application or apply for a modification to expand the project area.
  5. Santos is not seeking approval for fracking.

Note: Modifications to a project do not require a separate EIS, a full assessment or community consultation. Fracking has occurred in NSW under a modification.

Insufficient monitoring and inadequate information were objected to strongly in the submissions. Many of the issues raised have still not been addressed as Santos proposes –

  1. A rehabilitation plan will be prepared post approval.
  2. Every 3 years a third party will do an environmental audit, monitoring gas wells and gathering lines.
  3. Waste salt, filter cartridges and reverse osmosis membranes will be disposed of at an appropriately licenced facility in accordance with regulatory requirements.
  4. Prior to a routine loadout to an off-site licenced management waste facility, the salt would be temporarily stored at Leewood, in a weatherproof appropriately bunded storage facility.

Note: In Queensland toxic salt piles up on gas companies’ or contractors land waiting for a waste facility to be approved and licenced.

Scientist wrote in their submissions that the information on the effects on surface and groundwater was insufficient to assess the project and more monitoring was needed. The water section is complex and expert advice is needed to see if Santos have adequately addressed this issue.

In other words this massive document does little to quash the fears of objectors but spins a good yarn. With the $13B takeover bid from US owned Harbour Energy being reviewed by the Foreign Investment Review Board, Santos needs to keep up appearances that this project is still viable.