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Report demolishes Santos gasfield lies

The Red Rebels, who are famous worldwide for their performance theatre that highlights the existential plight that faces humanity and other species, joined the protest at Santos’s Brisbane office last week. Photo: Supplied

Fossil Fool Bulletin • 22 October 2019• By Eve Sinton

Around 120 people gathered in Brisbane as part of Rebellion Week, outside an oil and gas company’s office last week, demanding Santos tell the truth.

Dr Anne Gardiner, an ex-water engineer from Brisbane joined with spokesperson from Northern Rivers Extinction Rebellion, Naomi Shine as they attempted to hand-deliver the demands to the Santos HQ in Brisbane, which controls the east coast operations of its ‘Coal Seam Gas-to-Liquified Natural Gas’ operations. They were told by Adelaide based Executives that no-one in Brisbane would be able to speak to them.

Dr Gardiner, a water engineer from Brisbane said, “Santos claim they can capture most of the fugitive emissions from their CSG operations but experts tell us that this is not the case. Methane is a super polluter, up to 86 times more potent than C02.

“Santos claim they can manage the heavy metals, salts, naturally occurring radioactive materials and dangerous organics that occur in the vast quantities of waste water they take from aquifers, but in fact they have no solution for this waste.

“Santos tells the government that drilling more wells will lower the cost of gas domestically but this is not true, only a domestic gas reservation will solve this issue.

“Santos need to tell the truth on all of these issues.”

Northern Rivers Extinction Rebellion’s Naomi Shine said, “Santos: we demand you exit NSW, you must halt your ambitions to turn the biggest inland forest in NSW, the Pilliga, into a gasfield. The Pilliga is well known for its cultural significance to the Gomeroi/Gamilaraay people and its unique biodiversity, it sits above an incredibly important recharge zone of the Great Artesian Basin.”

Farmers in Sydney demand Santos tell truth

Meanwhile, a delegation of farmers battling unprecedented drought conditions in north west NSW travelled to Sydney to demand Santos’s environmentally reckless Narrabri coal seam gas proposal be scrapped.

Their visit coincided with the release of an economic report which reveals CSG from the planned project would be extremely expensive to produce and would not do anything to bring down high gas prices in NSW.

The farmers met with politicians and staff to argue groundwater in the region is too precious to be left in the hands of a company with a polluting reputation like Santos, which wants to build 850 CSG wells near Narrabri through the recharge zone of the Great Artesian Basin.

The visit came after Deputy Premier John Barilaro revealed, during Senate Estimates, that there is no intention to introduce a state-specific Standing Expert Body as recommended by the Chief Scientist five years ago as part of her Independent Review of Coal Seam Gas Activities in NSW.

The Chief Scientist recommended the Standing Expert Body in order to monitor, inform and review the impacts of the CSG industry.

Liverpool Plains farmer Margaret Fleck said the government and Santos had done nothing to reassure farmers in the half decade since the Chief Scientist’s recommendations were handed down.

“Santos has ignored or rejected requests from Narrabri Council and the local rural fire service to limit the risks of the proposed Narrabri gas project” she said.

“Santos has also refused the EPA’s request to assess the capacity of landfill facilities to accommodate huge volumes of salt waste with potentially high concentrations of metals and other contaminants.

“We know that in Queensland, the coal seam gas industry is responsible for draining bores relied upon by farmers. Why would we want this industry to move in here, particularly when we are dealing with such a severe drought?

“We also know there are 11 zombie petroleum licences waiting to be resurrected should Santos get approval for its destructive Narrabri project. We call on the NSW Nationals to act on their recent resolution to extinguish these zombie licences.”

‘Zombie’ licences are exploration licences which are still technically active despite expiring.  They cover 56,000 square kilometres of NSW, mostly in the north-west, and include titles held by Comet Ridge in the Moree area.

Outrageous Santos lies: 1, 2, and 3

Lock the Gate Alliance spokesperson Gerge Woods has told supporters:

“Turns out Santos has duped Australian governments twice and is trying to get away with a third trick.

“Ten years ago, Santos peddled two outrageous lies that have caused terrible damage to this country.

“The first lie was that it had enough gas reserves in its patchy coal seam gasfields in Queensland to supply the two big LNG export trains it wanted to build at Gladstone.

“The second lie was that opening this new export market would not affect domestic gas prices or supply.

“This new report unveils the truth – that Santos was very short on gas in its proposed Queensland CSG fields, and has raided domestic gas to meet export contracts, and that as a result domestic gas prices in eastern Australia have tripled, even as gas production has tripled.

“A decade on, the manufacturing industry is going to the wall, jobs have been lost, farmers have lost their water, electricity prices have been driven up and Santos is turning a tidy profit.

“Amazingly, Santos is now at it again, telling gullible politicians that turning the Pilliga into an industrial gasfield will bring down gas prices.

“However, this new report reveals that the Narrabri gas project would do nothing to reduce prices, and would instead be the most expensive gas in eastern Australia at over $9/GJ.

“The last flimsy argument in favour of the Narrabri gas project has collapsed. Not only will it deplete precious groundwater and fragment a forest and fray the social fabric, it will do nothing to ease high gas and electricity prices. 

“We’re going to make sure the Independent Planning Commission knows this project is a lose-lose-lose proposal.”

The Pegasus ‘Report on the Narrabri Gas Project’ was commissioned by The Wilderness Society.

“This damning report exposes the fairy-tale that a high-cost and low-yield coal seam gas field at Narrabri can or will alleviate the economic harm Santos has already done to the east coast manufacturing industry with its reckless coal seam gas export gamble,” said spokesperson for the Wilderness Society, Naomi Hodgson.

The report concludes:

Santos and the Santos-led GLNG project have been significant contributors toward any impending gas shortfalls in the Eastern Gas Region as GLNG did not possess sufficient gas resources to justify its investment decision for a second LNG train. In turn, they have diverted substantial volumes of gas from domestic users through third-party gas supply contracts to satisfy their export contracts, contrary to previous claims that it would not.

Santos has used the pretext of looming gas supply shortages in NSW as a fulcrum to garner regulatory approval for its Narrabri Gas Project, without acknowledging the central role it played in creating the circumstances that it claims the Narrabri Gas Project will help to alleviate.

While the development of the Narrabri Gas Project will provide additional gas supply for NSW, there are plenty of cheaper gas resources that could be developed, and it is unlikely to have any bearing over gas prices either in the immediate future or over the longer term.

• Download the report here:


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