Santos receives Pilliga approval

Approval: Santos looks at environmental impact

Australia’s Santos has been given the go-ahead with its amended Narrabi project in the Pilliga forest in New South Wales.

Santos submitted a reviewed environmental report for the Narrabri coalbed methane utilisation project, the Bibblewindi gas exploration project and the Dewhurst gas exploration project to the NSW Planning Assessment Commission.

The Commission approved the report accepting that the modified Narrabri project allowed for the "rational and efficient transfer of water and brine for dust suppression and rehabilitation" to enable the use of gas from exploration and appraisal drilling.

The local community were given the opportunity to weigh in on the bid to go ahead during the investigation receiving less than 25 objections.

“The Commission considers the current proposed modification and pilot expansions to be minor as they are of short duration and are essentially aimed at exploration and resource appraisal and also notes that CBM is regulated under a complex set of consents and approvals,” the Commission said.

The company hit some trouble at the project earlier this year regarding an incident at the project when two “bath tubs” worth of salty water was spilled.

The water was contained in a surface diversion train onsite, before it was captured and returned to the holding pond.

The spill occurred while the company was transferring produced water from a test CBM well to a holding pond.

Santos said there was “no impact to any nearby water source and no risk to the environment”.

In light of the announcement, Australian anti-gas organisation Lock the Gate Alliance said the approval for drilling in the Pilliga was going to cause more problems in the protection of water sources.

It said the Commission approved the expansion “without a clear idea of how Santos will deal with the large volumes of saline and contaminated water it will produce”.

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