Farming and community groups say Santos’ new CEO, Kevin Gallagher, who starts work today, should signal that the company has learned from its mistakes and will not pursue two damaging and controversial coal seam gas (CSG) projects in NSW and Queensland.
Santos is pursuing Federal approval for an additional 6,100 CSG wells in western and central Qld, just five years after it gained first stage approval for its GLNG gasfield project. It is also proposing an 850-well production field in the Pilliga forest, in north-west NSW.
Lock the Gate Alliance National Coordinator, Phil Laird said, “We see the arrival of a new CEO at Santos as an opportunity for the company to change its course.
“We’ve written to Mr Gallagher, asking him to meet with us and to visit affected communities in north-west NSW and Qld. CSG has been an environmental, social and economic debacle, and there is no justification for pushing ahead with it any longer.
“Just five years into the development of their approved 2,650 CSG wells in Qld, Santos is now seeking to more than triple the number of wells it has approval to drill from Roma to Rolleston in Central Queensland.
“This is what the community always feared: not satisfied with the approvals it’s already got, Santos is coming back for more invasive wells, more industrialisation and more damage to agriculture.
“Both of the Santos projects are located in recharge areas for the Great Artesian Basin and have the potential to inflict long term unforeseen damage on Australia’s most precious natural resource: our ancient groundwater water” he said.
Margaret Fleck, a farmer from the Liverpool Plains area near Mullaley in the Gunnedah Basin and spokesperson for the North West Alliance, said that farmers in her region were opposing Santos because groundwater is the lifeblood of inland Australia.
“Our message to Santos’ new CEO on his first day is this: get out of coal seam gas. It’s damaging, it’s unwelcome, and there are better ways to make money than by ripping water out of the driest continent on earth and putting our farming future at risk.” “
“Santos’ plans in both states involve the extraction of billions of litres of groundwater. In our region, the Pilliga sandstone aquifer is a vitally important recharge area for the Great Artesian Basin.
“Huge areas of NSW and Queensland rely utterly on this ancient water, which is slow to recharge. We can’t punch all these holes in the Great Artesian Basin without losing pressure, and those effects will be felt far in to the future” Margaret said.