Lock the Gate Alliance is alarmed following media reports that Santos’ seismic testing for coal seam gas on the Liverpool Plains near Gunnedah could threaten a colony of koalas that is being treated for chlamydia as part of ground breaking research.
Seismic testing for gas involves the use of “thumper trucks” which create tremors to identify gas reserves beneath the earth. It can also involve large scale tree clearing, as has occurred in the Kimberley where Buru Energy carved so much woodland, the paths of destruction could have reached from Perth to London if arranged in a straight line.
Santos is preparing to conduct seismic testing in the Liverpool Plains after the Perrottet Government allowed the company to resurrect its expired, so-called “zombie” petroleum licences. Santos told landholders at a recent community meeting at Gunnedah that it intended to use thumper trucks to search for gas.
As well as covering core koala habitat, the petroleum licences span across roughly half of the 1.2 million hectares of the Liverpool Plains foodbowl.
Mullaley landowner Geraldine McKay, who operates a horticulture and horse business, experienced seismic testing first hand when gas companies were exploring the region in 2007.
She likened the experience to an “ongoing earthquake” and said it caused major disruptions for her business.
“It was in the breeding season and we had horses jump out of their paddocks. They were so frightened,” she said.
“I can still feel it in my body - it was a very uneasy feeling. I remember standing in my house wondering how the structure was going to handle the constant reverberations.
“People need to be warned. Check the structure of your building, because cracks to foundations are possible given the strength of the vibrations.
“It’s not a benign experience, it’s like living through an earthquake that goes on and on.
“Koalas are mobile so naturally they’re going to move away from something as noisy and disturbing as seismic testing. They will disperse and the researchers will have to find them again.”
Mullaley Gas and Pipeline Accord spokesperson Margaret Fleck said if Santos had its way, the company would turn the food and fibre producing powerhouse of the Liverpool Plains into an industrial coal seam gas wasteland.
“Santos wants to use its yet to be approved hunter gas pipeline to transport not just gas from its planned gasfield in the Pilliga Forest to the coast, but also gas from its interests in the Liverpool Plains,” she said.
“The Perrottet Government needs to rethink its decision to sacrifice the Liverpool Plains foodbowl to Santos’ gas grab.
“Seismic testing, while a horrible experience for directly impacted landholders, is nothing compared to the disruption they will experience if Santos ultimately begins drilling thousands of gaswells across Liverpool Plains farmland, as it has done in Queensland.”
Santos recently bought the corridor for the Hunter Gas Pipeline but still needs a pipeline licence before it can start building.