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Byron Shire
September 26, 2023

Santos’ Narrabri Gas Project seeks approval for 850 CSG wells in northwest NSW

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Sacrifice Zone is a documentary about CSG and the Narrabri Gas Project made by local filmmaking team, Cloudcatcher Media.


Part of Australia’s food bowl near Gunnedah, land that is living under a gas cloud.

Antoinette Tombrook

Gas is in the air again. The northwest of NSW is preparing for the unfolding of a giant gas field, from the far Queensland border to Dubbo. The first of seven stages will be the Narrabri Gas Project, with 850 wells in the Pilliga State Forest.

The total gas exploration banging at our doors will push us over the edge. With excessive amounts of emissions, pollution of rivers and aquifers, annihilation of green belts, flora and fauna, the degradation of farmland ­– these giant gas explorations are like malignant tumours which will effect the health of entire communities.

With the Narrabri Gas Project comes the push for the 830 kilometre Hunter Gas Pipeline from Roma to Newcastle, as the pipeline is conditional on the development of Santos’ latest sweetheart project.

Together these projects will swallow about $3 billion, money that should be invested in renewable energy.

The lie of supply shortage

We are being told that gas is critical for domestic energy supply. A curious urgency surrounds the gas projects desperation to fast-track approvals. It seems that the proponents are wrestling for a spot in the convoluted economy of fossil fuels.

WorldOil reports that Australian exports of LNG are flooding the global market with a substantial surplus.

Conflicting with the insane cranking up of NSW gas production, the Newcastle GasDock import terminal promises to rescue NSW from an alleged ‘gas shortage’ by covering 80% of NSW annual requirement with imported gas.

The LNG facilities in Port Kembla, south of Sydney, have been approved to ramp up import capacity with increased cargoes, supplying NSW with 75% of its total market need. That’s 155% coverage of demand of gas flowing into the state from outside suppliers. This makes the injection of natural gas from domestic sources obsolete.

WorldOil reports that Australian exports of LNG are flooding the global market with a substantial surplus.

The Bohena 4/4L kill zone already in the Pilliga. Photo Tree Faerie.

Threats from spill and fire

The gas economy drills tunnels to nowhere. There is the legacy of abandoned wells and wastewater ponds.

The area of northwest NSW is one of the most agriculturally productive local government areas of Australia. The Great Artesian Basin is a stable water resource that supplies farming communities in abundance. Groundwater is a critical resource. Without the GAB food production in Australia is in jeopardy.

Reckless fiddling with a precious resource like water is a chilling prospect. Contamination is guaranteed. Spills are inevitable.

Produced water is toxic and contains levels of salt that harden the soil and stop plants from growing. Rehabilitation of exploration sites is a joke. Hazardous chemicals in ground and surface water are already exterminating life.

The flares which burn even in a total fire ban impose a huge risk of bush fires which have only recently ravaged the Pilliga so powerfully that the forest burned bare

The gas companies like to play with fire. The flares which burn even in a total fire ban impose a huge risk of bush fires which have only recently ravaged the Pilliga so powerfully that the forest burned bare.

Burning bores and bubbling rivers are proof of methane entering water reservoirs to a degree that is hazardous to health and in igniting fires. This is environmental vandalism.

Wells and pipelines leak. The flares propel fugitive emissions with up to 250 different toxic chemicals. One components is the radioactive caesium 137.

Residents living near gasfields complain about serious health problems and children are affected by neurological problems and cancer.

Iconic natural areas are under threat. Development in the Pilliga forest threatens extinction for the vulnerable Pilliga mouse, and other locally threatened species such as koalas, wallabies and the wedge tail eagle.

Benny Zable as the Greed Dozer and the Bentley Angel, just two of the thousands who stood against CSG mining at Bentley. Photo Tree Faerie.

Swell the numbers – Remember Bentley worked

This is an issue so life-threatening that every concerned citizen feels the injustice of flawed decisions by politicians which are a slap in the face of their constituents.

Wherever you look, community groups have sprung up in response to the CSG risk, actively defending their livelihoods, homes and families.

In spite of all this, the NSW Planning Department has recommended and approved Santos’ application for the Narrabri Gas Project. The proposal has been referred to the Independent Planning Commission (IPC) for final approval. Submissions are now open.

Please, write submissions to the IPC. Submissions close 31 July 2020.

Please, attend the Public Hearing on 20-24 July 2020. Register online by 10 July 2020.

For dates and webinars go to www.CSGFreeNorth West.org.au or www.Lock the Gate org.au.

Submissions guide are available if you have need some help.

On the brink

This is a fight for Australia, a fight for Mother Earth.

The consequences of exposing gases and fuels to the atmosphere are enormous and far reaching. From the Great Artesian Basin to the Great Barrier Reef, the industry is a beast that has to be conquered before the continent of Australia falls to pieces, before extinction accelerated to a non-stoppable catastrophe. We are on the brink of that scenario now.

The drilling into aquifers deep into the layers of earth is upsetting the spiritual connection to the land. This has to be one of the most troubling consequences of gas exploration

The drilling into aquifers deep into the layers of earth is upsetting the spiritual connection to the land. This has to be one of the most troubling consequences of gas exploration.

The layers were formed in prehistoric times. It is these periods which enabled life on earth, forming the foundations for organic and biological life.

Processes of millions of years were necessary to give birth to our planet’s ecological diversity. We owe our existence to these processes, which lie lay witness in the subterranean seams.

These places also carry high spiritual value.

Wirsol Solar Farm. Photo supplied

Renewables and decentralisation

Building energy independent communities is crucial, for they are less vulnerable to be squashed. This will also thwart the argument for job creation. There are plenty of jobs – and lasting jobs – in setting up and sustaining renewables.

Decentralising essential services is the paramount protection against politically controlled baseload energy.

TransGrid is the new governmental transmission network designed to keep a firm grip on energy supply. Touted as the new transition model, TransGrid is locking in gas, coal and hydro for decades to come.

Renewable energy as part of the TransGrid network electricity system (in the hands of government agencies), could destabilise efforts to establish independent community energy projects in the renewable sector.

Globally and locally, communities are increasingly mobilising to get the job done on renewables. Governments continue to fail them. Change has to come from the heart of these communities.

As bullies only react to strength, people need to be strong. Our future and our children’s future are at stake.

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  1. Well, Well,Well ! 850 to start.
    Hardly surprising. Who was it said “never stand between a politician and a glimps of a bucket of money” ?
    The fact is they won’t stop until the whole planet is dead ,or they are.
    The only hope I see is, the young ones, they see the devastation, that has been wrought in the name of progress but are still able to imagine alternative possibilities.
    cheers, G”)

  2. Time for ‘The Quiet Australians’ to wake up. Vote The Coalition and you get the continual rape and destruction of the environment.

  3. it is madness when they know the water is precious and this will destroy the water, the government us usual is all about money. leave the county alone.

  4. Here we go again, 3 LNG facilities on Curtis Island Gladstone QLD, one owned by Santos, all exporting gas in a world market that is flooded with cheap gas and we are setting up LNG import facilities in NSW to import gas due to shortfalls in NSW for domestic and commercial use.
    Once they start drilling for CSG it’s ongoing as these wells have a short life. 850 wells would only be an appertiser. Exporting gas from one state and then importing it at a sea terminal over the border in NSW. It defies logic!!!

  5. Despite oil companies identifying that we had over 100 years of gas from their wells, the Labour party opened up an east coast gas export terminal that has seen the majority of CSG exported, and will see the majority of any new CSG gas also exported. The Libs/Nats lie that more gas is needed for cheap domestic use. Both Labour and Libs/nats have sabotaged our domestic gas resource, for the LIBs/Nats its export money, for Labour it is jobs for its union members. Shutting down the Qld gas export terminal will leave plenty of gas for the quickly needed transition to green energy supplies.

  6. This is outrageous. This cannot go ahead – it’s pure madness. CSG will poison the Artesian basin and then when the next mega-drought hits and everybody has to rely on bore water again, they’ll be up the (dry) creek without a paddle….there needs to be a moratorium on all activities which threaten any water supply. CSG. Mines. Water mining. All of it. When will this country learn that water is sacrosanct – without it there can be no life; dead ecosystems, no agriculture, no towns, no economic activity. We don’t want or need CSG – we are awash with renewable energy in this country. We should be using it to create a green hydrogen economy!

  7. This proposal is madness and a massive potential environmental disaster but once again the forecast almighty dollar over rules common sense, the longterm environmental impacts and what the majority of those who really care about Australia and its future – especially as one if the best food producers in the world – believe
    Australian already produces enough gas for local and export requirements so the government should ban SANTOS from continuing with this proposed development and ensure the current cheap exports of gas to China stop and replaced with the sale if market value gas

  8. We’ve got a bubble-gum leader [ScoMo] now
    allowing Santos to supply China with ‘snuff &
    stuff.’ The gas-man’s just too much…

  9. Shame on the smiling assassins each and everyone of us will face St. Peter .The environment is dying and the human spirit also because life Is what we all make it and sadly corruption and greed is slowly taking it from our future.The truth will set us free


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