Santos CSG operations near Narrabri (NSW) have been cleared by water expert, Dr Richard Cresswell, who has reiterated that Santos’ operations are not a threat to water resources including the Great Artesian Basin.

Questions around the company’s proposed Leewood facility have also been addressed.

Dr Cresswell, who is a former CSIRO Hydrogeologist and sits on the Federal Government’s Expert Panel for Large Coal Seam Gas Projects, told the NSW Farmers conference in Sydney that the coal seam gas Santos will target is found in formations called the Gunnedah Basin, which lies well beneath the Great Artesian Basin, and there is no hydraulic linkage between the two basins.

As reported by the ABC, Dr Cresswell said “there’s a thick layer of tight, impermeable rock…that limits the amount of water that permeates between the Gunnedah Basin and the GAB.”

“We found no evidence of leakage between the Gunnedah Basin and the overlying Pilliga sandstone which is the main aquifer of the GAB in this area.

“In fact recent studies looking at this, in particular work done by the CSIRO and Geoscience Australia have confirmed, that specifically in the area of the Narrabri Gas Project, it is actually one of the tightest areas across the whole basin in terms of whether or not leakages can happen between the basins on a natural instance.”

Dr Cresswell also reiterated that Santos’ Narrabri Gas Project will not have an impact on the major recharge areas of the GAB.

“This site is most fortuitous….it turns out to be one of the best sites in terms of low recharge to the region.”

A group of Narrabri locals have expressed their support for Santos, saying the industry is delivering economic benefits to the local area.

In a short video released by Santos, local landholder Anthony Brennan says Santos’ Narrabri operations are contributing to the local economy.

“A new industry coming to town is certainly contributing to our community both economically and in terms of jobs and they are the two most important things to drive this area forward,” he said.

Through the Narrabri Gas Project Santos will employ up to 1200 people during construction and 200 people on an ongoing basis. The Project will generate more than $1.6 billion in royalties. This will help support services like better roads, hospitals and schools for the people of NSW.

Leewood Phase 2 project

Santos has also provided a response to the questions and comments raised by various government departments in relation to the proposed water treatment facility at the company’s Leewood site.

A spokesperson from Santos has said that they are confident this additional information has now fully addressed the questions and comments, and the company looks forward to further discussions with the Department of Resources and Energy (DRE) once it has considered Santos’s response.

The proposed Leewood Phase 2 project will involve the construction of reverse osmosis facilities to treat the salty water we extract from coals seams as part of the company’s exploration so it can be used for purposes like irrigation.

Leewood Phase 2 follows on from the first phase of work at Leewood (Leewood Phase 1), which was the construction of double lined storage ponds and associated infrastructure. Phase 1 was approved by the NSW Government and completed last year.

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