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Byron Shire
December 2, 2021

Community still fighting gas expansion in Narrabri

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Pilliga protestors. Photo supplied.

Even though almost all of the 23,000 submissions in response to the the Santos Narrabri Project were against Pilliga CSG mining going ahead, locals a still fighting to have their voice heard.

Determined to forgive ahead, Santos are laying kilometres of new pipeline to get more gas from exploration wells, royalty free, to use at the Wilga Park power station and the The North West Alliance group want to draw attention to the current gas expansion happening in Narrabri and the Pilliga State forest.

For over 10 years gas form exploration wells has been generating income for the gas company, while not paying a cent in royalties to NSW. It has been estimated millions of dollars has been missed from going towards essential areas such as hospitals and schools, all because of a legal loophole being exploited.

Just recently Santos asked the NSW Coalition Government for an extra 1000 days to prove the viability of the Pilliga Gas resource, which was granted.

The Berejiklian government went against their own departments advice to exempt the royalties.

This exploration has continued to be an open ended invitation to conduct production under the guise of exploration.

Considering the current scandals plaguing the NSW Dept of Planning, with whistleblowers leaking information on controversial mining decisions and links to alleged corruption, the North West Alliance believes that this current expansion to the Narrabri Gas project should be put on hold until an ICAC can conduct a full investigation. The integrity of the whole system is under question.

Peter Small. Photo David Lowe.

The North West Alliance’s Peter Small said Santos have had over 10 years to appraise the gas from their exploration. ‘They know how much gas there is. This is just exploitation under the threat if they don’t sell it, they will have to just flare it off.

‘We do not accept this. This is bullying behaviour, when they should seal off all the exploration wells, end the flaring and wait for the final decision for the EIS.’

Mr Small says the community has shown there is no social licence for this project. ‘The recent door knock of the entire Narrabri town resulted in less than one third responding that they wanted it. Not to mention the record breaking submission of 23’000 respondents, with 98% saying they objected to this project.’

Gomeroi elder and Pilliga local Aunty Sheryl said that the Pilliga local Aboriginal Land council moved a motion and carried that they don’t want any gasfields anywhere in or near the Pilliga local land council boundary area.

President for People For The Plains Stuart Murray said that this in effect re-establishes a 10 year Royalty free holiday where Santos produces gas from exploration wells, then generates electricity and revenue. ‘The point is Santos have been given a very long time to use our gas to make money without paying royalties.

‘Add to this the fact that no royalties, means there have not been any contributions from the Government or Santos to the estimated $160 million Regional Community Benefit Fund, which was a key plank in the Santos proposal.’

‘This, in our opinion is Royalty-free gas production under the cover of gas exploration.

‘This is gas production by stealth while not paying the people of NSW for the privilege.’

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