Santos, who are NSW’s largest owner of coal seam gas acreage are moving quickly to begin its long-planned and long-awaited $500 million CSG (Coal seam gas is natural gas extracted at low pressure from coal.) exploration program, creating hundreds drilling, mining, construction and pipeline development jobs in the sector.
Hopes of getting the gas flowing from the Pilliga-Narrabri region in the north west of New South Wales. Santos had previously withdrawn planning application for coal seam gas wells near Narrabri with an expected exploration program of drilling 50 wells over the next three years.
The exploration plans were originally drawn up by Eastern Star which was proposing to invest more than $2 billion in the project. Santos acquired Eastern Star in November 2011 and has been reviewing its operations.
In February 2012, Santos released a report into Eastern Star’s operations in the Pilliga State Forest and said it would spend $20 million upgrading the company’s former sites.
A previous freeze on exploration and drilling permits makes it difficult to avoid gas shortages and higher prices around the 2014-15 period – it has been reported. Queensland gas export projects will start to exhaust supplies from the eastern states that could otherwise have flowed into NSW.
The government is also renewing 22 CSG exploration licences now that the previous moratorium has been lifted.
“We’ve got the legislation in place, we’ll have our licence renewed: now it’s time to start getting some action on the ground,” Mr Baulderstone said, noting Santos still has to build a new water handling system to support its plans.
NSW Energy minister Chris Hartcher has defended the licence renewal efforts of the Liberal government, stating CSG exploration licences under Labor were “approved and renewed with no community awareness or input, and with no concern for agricultural or environmental impacts”. The government was working to ensure supply security.
Merrill Lynch energy analyst James Bullen said costs and time for exploration approvals would increase as a result of the new measures, a price that would be passed on to consumers.
Find out more about Santos Coal Seam Gas projects in Australia on their website. There is a dedicated Santos career jobs board where you will find the latest vacancies for the many Santos resource projects in Australia.
Santos CSG-LNG gas jobs about to ignite