Federal Govt signs off on Narrabri Gas

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Image: Santos

Santos has welcomed Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley’s approval of the Narrabri Gas Project and says it will now embark on a 12-18 month appraisal program ahead of a Final Investment Decision (FID) for the next phase of project development.

Santos managing director and chief executive officer Kevin Gallagher said the conditions on the approval were consistent with those already set by the New South Wales Independent Planning Commission and generally in line with those for our GLNG operations where we are operating safely and efficiently, and protecting water resources and the environment.

“We accept the conditions from the Commonwealth, which are very much in line with our other operations across the country and welcome the approval that all relevant matters of national environmental significance have been adequately addressed,” Mr Gallagher said.

“Santos is excited about the prospect of developing the Narrabri Gas Project, a 100 per cent domestic gas project that will deliver the lowest-cost source of gas for NSW customers.

“The approval process has been comprehensive, transparent and inclusive, providing the community with confidence the project has been properly evaluated using the best available science, is in the public interest and is capable of development without harm to water resources or the environment.

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“As the economy recovers from COVID-19, game-changing projects like Narrabri are critical to creating jobs, driving investment, turbo-charging regional development and delivering more competitive energy prices.”

Santos has already commenced workover activities on existing wells under its current exploration tenures and is working to get various agreements in place that are required prior to the next phase of development.

“This is a significant step forward for the Narrabri community, a majority of whom support the project and the jobs, business opportunities, infrastructure and community investment that will come with it.

“Santos already has appraisal wells feeding the Wilga Park Power Station powering the equivalent of 32,000 households in north-west New South Wales, there are 16 Santos people and their families living and working locally and we’re buying goods and services locally with a spend last year of $2 million.

“Now all we want to do is to get on with creating jobs in New South Wales and Narrabri, and making a real difference to people’s lives in rural and regional communities,” Mr Gallagher said.

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The Climate Council said the green light for the project cemented the government’s position as a climate change laggard and driver of environmental destruction.

“In greenlighting the Narrabri gas project, the Federal Government shows a lack of care for the families, farmers, and wildlife who need a safe climate to survive,” said Climate Councillor Will Steffen, who gave evidence to the NSW Independent Planning Commission. 

“Australians have suffered through a horror year of scorching heatwaves, devastating droughts and unprecedented bushfires. This is the cost of continuing to mine and burn gas and other fossil fuels. 

“People have lost lives, homes, and jobs; and over a billion animals have died. Australia cannot afford any more climate inaction.

Professor Steffen said the science was clear. “We need to keep global warming well below 2°C, and in order to achieve that we need to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This means no new fossil fuels, and a rapid transition to renewable energy,” Professor Steffen said. 

Professor Lesley Hughes, Climate Councillor and Distinguished Professor of Biology, said the Narrabri project will have devastating impacts on local biodiversity and water resources, and will accelerate dangerous climate change. 

“Australia does not need new gas, and a majority of Australians don’t want it,” Professor Hughes said.

“Governments and investors should be helping to transform Australia into a world leader in renewable energy. This would get Australians back to work now, while future-proofing our economy.”