Santos has lodged its official response to some 23,000 submissions made to the Department of Planning and Environment in New South Wales in response to the company’s Environmental Impact Statement for the Narrabri Gas Project.
Of those 23,000 submissions, approximately 16,500 were form letters – form submissions contain pre-written text and are submitted independently. The volume of form letters, driven by anti-fossil fuel campaigners, significantly influences an overall anti-sentiment.
Especially when you consider that an earlier GISERA-commissioned, CSIRO lead, social impact assessment into ‘Community wellbeing and local attitudes to coal seam gas development’ in Narrabri reported that 69.5% of respondents were in support or not opposed and only 30.5% opposed the Project with “those residents who live in Narrabri town and surrounds held significantly more positive views’.
But, let’s review some of the facts about the Narrabri Gas Project (NGP).
- The project has the potential to supply up to 200 terajoules of natural gas per day, which is sufficient gas to meet up to half of NSW’s natural gas demand
- That gas could support more than one million homes, 33,000 businesses and 300,000 jobs that rely on natural gas as a source of energy
- The NGP will also deliver around $1.2 billion in royalties directly to the NSW budget to help und essential government services
- Locally the Project will provide around 1,300 jobs during construction, 200 ongoing jobs and a regional benefit fund of up to $120 million to invest in local community programs
- The Project would not impact existing water users and would not have a significant impact on groundwater resources
The main concerns raised in the responses were in relation to groundwater and geology, with additional assessments done to cover concerns raised in regards to terrestrial ecology, air quality and landscape and visual impacts (lighting).
In light of the additional undertakings and assessments completed by Santos as part of the response to submissions process, it “confirms the Narrabri Gas Project can be developed safely and sustainably”.
The fact is, the NGP couldn’t be a timelier development project for the state, as the updated release of the Australian Energy Market Operator’s (AEMO) 2017 Gas Statement of Opportunities where the predictions for gas shortfalls was significantly increased.
“In real terms and based on no further response to today’s information, the projected shortfall risk for 2018 is between 54 petajoules (PJs) to 107 PJs, and in 2019 between 48 PJs to 102 PJs. To put this into context, total projected demand for domestic gas is expected to be approximately 642 PJs in 2018, and 598 PJs in 2019.”
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission also confirmed this outlook in their Gas Inquiry 2017-2020 Interim Report released in September 2017. The updated outlook increases the urgency for additional new gas supplies.
As the numbers – or rather the demand – starts to stack-up, the necessity for projects like the Narrabri Gas Project to commence becomes increasingly apparent.