An assessment by the Independent Expert Scientific Committee (IESC) into Santos’ coal seam gas project in Narrabri, New South Wales, has found the project lacks key data that potentially underestimates impacts on threatened ecosystems, and ground and surface water.
The IESC was requested by the Department of the Environment and Energy, and the New South Wales Department of Planning and Environment to provide advice on the project.
The proposed project will comprise up to 850 production wells on 425 well pads. The estimated water production ranges from 34 GL/year to 87 GL/year. The project infrastructure includes a central gas processing facility for the compression, dehydration and treatment of the gas to commercial quality.
Supporting infrastructure includes treatment, beneficial reuse, power generation, water and gas distribution, and operational management facilities.
Key potential risks of the project include:
- Salt and chemical management and disposal
- Groundwater depressurisation and drawdown in aquifers within the project area and surrounds that may impact groundwater dependent ecosystems (GDEs) and other groundwater users
- Changes to surface water flow and quality as a result of discharges to Bohena Creek
Potential areas at risk from these impacts include:
- Landowner bores in the northern portion of the project area, outside the Pilliga State Forest, overlying areas of gas extraction from the Hoskissons Seam
- Hardys and Eather Springs
- Bohena Creek downstream of the discharge location
- Areas of co-produced brine, where salt and waste are stored
A spokeswoman for Santos told the Sydney Morning Herald the company “welcomes the review”.
“Santos is currently preparing a response to the submissions as part of the assessment process,” the spokesperson said.