GREEN LIGHT: The Palaszczuk Government have given three major companies the all clear to begin exploration for additional gas supplies in the Surat Basin.
GREEN LIGHT: The Palaszczuk Government have given three major companies the all clear to begin exploration for additional gas supplies in the Surat Basin. Santos

Palaszczuk Govt approve further gas exploration

THE Palaszczuk Government has given the green light to the Santos and Shell joint venture as well as Bridgeport Energy to start exploring for gas in the Surat Basin to boost future gas supply.

Community group, Lock the Gate Alliance is angered by the state government's announcement stating the prospecting licence to CSG companies is a slap in the face for Western Downs landholders who are already struggling with depleted water bores due to the rampant expansion of the industry.

Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the granting of the Authority to Prospect reinforced Queensland's commitment to meeting global and domestic demand with approvals processed in just three weeks.

Since 2015, the Palaszczuk Government had released more than 39,000 square kilometres of land for gas exploration - nearly a quarter for the domestic market only.

"This approval means the Santos/Shell joint venture and Bridgeport Energy can hit the ground running on the land near Chinchilla and Tara in the proven gas producing Surat Basin,'' Dr Lynham said.

"Before granting these ATPs, Santos/Shell joint venture and Bridgeport Energy had to fulfil all existing environmental and Native Title requirements," he said.

"The Santos/Shell joint venture has won the right to explore gas on 1212 square kilometres of land near Chinchilla and Bridgeport Energy on 298 square kilometres near Tara.

"Santos and Shell already are major players in Queensland's onshore $70 billion gas industry via there established GLNG and QCLNG gas projects.

"Granting of these ATPs is all about getting the petajoules in the pipes and boosting gas supply to help meet demand.

"Santos/Shell and Bridgeport's ongoing investment in exploration demonstrates the high level of confidence in Queensland's onshore gas industry.

"This investor confidence was on display earlier at the Energy Mines and Money event held in Brisbane on June 12-13 which attracted around 500 delegates and potential investors looking to invest in our burgeoning resources sector.”

Bridgeport Energy Limited CEO Chris Way said he was very pleased to be granted this ATP across 289 square kilometres of land in the Surat Basin and was looking forward to developing the potential gas asset.

"This ATP is near our existing production hub at the Moonie field and it will allow us fast-track gas production to market,” he said.

"Thanks to the support of the Queensland Government, we're excited to expand our activities in the region and help further secure Queensland's energy supply.”

"The Queensland Government is leading the way in efficient approvals processes to get investment flowing faster in gas exploration and development to increase supply and reserves for the east coast gas market,” Santos Managing Director and CEO, Mr Kevin Gallagher said.

"Together with Shell, our joint venture partner, Santos is looking forward to getting exploration under way as soon as possible to unlock new gas resources.

"Development of new gas supply sources is the only sustainable, long-term solution to ensure adequate supplies for both the LNG and domestic markets on the east coast.”

Dr Lynham said the land releases for gas exploration continued to pay dividends as shown by the latest ABS figures.

"Our trend petroleum exploration expenditure is up to $59 million for the first quarter of 2019, an increase over the year of 17.2 per cent,” Dr Lynham said.

"Exploration investment is the foundation that underpins future projects which means more royalties, exports and jobs for Queenslanders.

Community group Lock the Gate Alliance said the announcement was particularly galling given the recent release of the draft Underground Water Impact Report for the Surat Basin, which found more than 574 agricultural water bores would likely be drained if the CSG industry proceeded as planned.

The granting of the Authority to Prospects to the Santos/Shell joint venture and Bridgeport Energy also comes after a new Global Energy Monitor report revealed emissions from the global unconventional gas industry were likely to have an impact on global warming as large, or larger than, the growth in coal-fired power stations.

"The Palaszczuk Government is sacrificing quality farming land for this dirty industry,” spokesperson for Lock the Gate Alliance, Carmel Flint said. 

"It's appalling that this is happening at a time when the Western Downs is drought declared, many farmers are facing water restrictions, and the government itself has just acknowledged that CSG is likely to drain 574 water bores.

"Farmers and communities have suffered enough thanks to CSG development in Queensland. Approving these permits will only lead to more damage to water, the environment, and wellbeing of residents.

"What's more, the predicted royalties from the industry have failed to eventuate - in the 2014/15 budget when the first of Queensland's LNG export facilities were opening up, Treasury estimated huge returns for Queensland over the forward estimates.

"However this year's budget papers show that we have missed out on over $1.68 billion in anticipated royalties over the past four years.

"The gas companies have well and truly hoodwinked the Queensland Government, and continue to do so at the expense of landholders, particularly on the Western Downs.

"The destructive gas giants are making losers out of Queensland farmers.”


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