Metgasco CEO Peter Henderson has claimed that the company has a target figure of approximately 1000 gas wells in the northern rivers and projects CSG will inject $2 billion into the region’s economy over the next 20 years.
But the company’s announcements have met with a cynical response from CSG opponents.
The figures assume Metgasco would ramp up into a full-scale LNG exporter as well as providing gas domestically.
‘A round figure is about 1000 wells or so. But the number of wells depends on a range of factors, not only the size of sales that we’d need to make per year but also in the productivity of wells,’ he told ABC radio.
‘And we’re getting better as we go on in terms of getting gas from the wells. So if we can get twice as much gas per well, then we can reduce the number of wells we need.’
But Michael McNamara, from Lock the Gate – Tweed, said it was ‘a ludicrous proposition that Metgasco, which does not have a production licence – and, it is becoming increasingly obvious, does not have a social licence – is willing to make predictions about the next 20 years’.
‘I would have thought they would be worried about the next six months, let alone the next few years, as far as their future in the northern rivers is concerned.
‘Growing numbers of communities across the northern rivers are declaring themselves “CSG-free” following community meetings and surveys of residents.
‘This gives the declarations strong moral authority rather than being just wishful posturing such as we are seeing from Metgasco.’
Mr McNamara also argued that existing industries – such as agriculture, horticulture and tourism – represent more jobs and more income for the region than CSG mining would ever do, and that they would be threatened by the presence of CSG in the area.
‘In the northern rivers sugar cane farming, which now has certified sustainable status, contributes more than 1,000 jobs and $230 million per year,’ he said.
‘That represents a contribution of at least $4.6 billion over the next 20 years.’
Meanwhile Australian Greens deputy leader Adam Bandt yesterday moved an amendment to government legislation establishing a coal-seam gas advisory committee, to extend the CSG moratorium while the five-year research program of that committee is undertaken.
‘This amendment complements the two CSG bills I have before the Senate, one to give farmers the right to lock the gate against coal-seam gas, and the other to empower the environment minister to make decisions about water,’ he said ahead of the move yesterday.
Mr Bandt said it would allow the minister to consider the advice of the independent expert scientific committee on the water impacts of mining before proceeding with any further gas projects.