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Palaszczuk Government approves 500 gas well project, wants southern states and the feds to pay for pipeline

A newly approved gasfield in inland Central Queensland would require 19 billion litres of groundwater, a pipeline that doesn't exist yet, and would threaten dozens of water bores relied on by locals, company documents reveal.

Yesterday afternoon (March 23) the Queensland Environment Department approved the Environmental Authority for Blue Energy’s plan to drill 530 coal seam gas wells in tenements near Glenden, to the west of the much-loved Eungella National Park, as well as east of Moranbah and north east of Coppabella.

The project will likely 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.

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

Ahead of the decision by the Environment Department this week, Resources Minister Scott Stewart made media statements drumming up funding from the Federal Government and southern states to build a pipeline from the Bowen Basin. This followed similar statements from the premier late last year.

The public cash grab followed lobbying from Blue Energy for subsidies.

Lock the Gate Alliance Queensland Coordinator Ellie Smith said, “It’s outrageous that the Environment Department has approved a whole new gas field in Central Queensland despite the litany of problems Queenslanders further south have experienced with the industry.”

“This new gas field will tear up more farmland, drain more groundwater and leave Queenslanders paying the price for generations to come.

“The International Energy Agency has said we should not approve any new gas fields in order to maintain a safe climate. This gasfield will directly contribute to more bushfires, floods and heatwaves. It’s the wrong decision for Queensland.

“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 water bores lie within 10km of this project that farmers rely on for stock and home use.”

The application was not put through a rigorous Environmental Impact Assessment, but a less transparent Environmental Assessment. This means many aspects of the project were not publicly assessed such as 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.

“This flimsy environmental assessment gives us little faith in the information the department has relied on for this decision with no greenhouse gas emissions assessment,” Ms Smith said. 

“Farmers and the community can’t be expected to trust Blue Energy’s shoddy groundwater, social and environmental assessments when they’re largely done behind closed doors. 

“Farmers are doing their bit to reduce agricultural emissions, while mining companies are simply given the green light to pollute.

Blue and the Bowen Basin fast facts:

  • While home to many 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 did not state how many CSG wells it would require. It proposed 530 multiwell pads, with between two and six wells on each pad. State Government approval has now been given for 530 wells.

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

  • Blue Energy has not yet applied to the Federal Government for approval under the EPBC act.


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