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Fracking company’s northern scramble a disaster for water, climate, communities

A planned CSG project that would open up huge new swathes of Queensland for export-bound gas must be rejected, say community groups.

Today (Wednesday December 14) is the deadline for public submissions in response to Blue Energy’s plan to drill more than 1000 coal seam gas wells and lay more than 700km of associated pipelines across Central Queensland.

The project would be dependent on a yet to be constructed pipeline that would connect Blue’s tenements near Glenden to existing gas infrastructure on the Western Downs and is the first real attempt by a fracking company to exploit Queensland’s Bowen Basin.

While the north Bowen Basin gas pipeline is not yet approved, it has already cost $5 million in public subsidies, with the Queensland and federal governments splitting the costs of a feasibility study.

The public cash grab followed lobbying from Blue Energy for subsidies, and earlier this month Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk appeared to call for more handouts from the federal government, as well as money from the Victorian and NSW governments, to fund the pipeline’s construction.

Blue and the Bowen Basin fast facts:

  • While home to coal mines and the Shell/PetroChina owned Moranbah Gas Project, Central Queensland’s interior has so far escaped the kind of intensive CSG drilling experienced further south.

  • Blue Energy’s application does not state how many CSG wells would be required - instead it says its project would need a maximum of 530 wellpads, with between two and six wells on each pad. 

  • The application also does not detail the predicted carbon emissions from the project - either onsite or when the gas is burnt. Instead, Blue Energy only addresses emissions from the project in terms of the potential impact on local air quality.

  • Blue Energy was sent packing when it tried to frack the fertile farming country of the Wide Bay Burnett region in 2019.

  • The company also has exploration tenements covering the Channel Country rivers and floodplains of the Lake Eyre Basin

Lock the Gate Alliance Queensland Coordinator Ellie Smith said, “New gas fields won’t bring down Queenslanders’ power prices. But they will tear up more farmland, drain more groundwater and leave Queenslanders paying the price for generations to come.

“Blue Energy’s modelling shows more than 19 billion litres of water will be extracted during the two decade life of this proposed gasfield. Fifty-three stock and domestic bores lie within 10km of this project.

“But Blue Energy has not even said how many coal seam gas wells it wants to drill. Such is this company’s disregard for communities and the environment where it wants to operate. Farmers and the community can’t be expected to trust Blue Energy’s shoddy groundwater impact assessment when the company hasn’t even provided such basic information.”

Mackay Conservation Group Climate Campaigner Imogen Lindenberg said, “Mackay region workers deserve credible transition plans so they can upskill for the jobs of the green energy revolution, not more polluting gas pipelines that risk our region’s lives and livelihoods.

“Blue Energy and its polluting fracking plans were shown the door in the Wide Bay, and we’ll make sure this company faces the same fate in Central Queensland.

“We’ll be taking every action we can to prevent this climate and water wrecking project from proceeding. 

“The Mackay-Whitsunday-Isaac Region is particularly vulnerable to the worsening impacts of climate change so we absolutely need to stop the opening of a new petroleum basin on our doorstep.”

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