IMMEDIATE RELEASE, 28 June 2013, Zero Emissions Media Centre, Melbourne
Energy think-tank Zero Emissions is joining forces with Gunnedah Basin and Liverpool Plains farmers to stop Santos extracting gas from the pristine Pilliga state forest in north-west NSW.
"Fossil gas company SANTOS wants to create a massive gas field, far bigger than anything NSW has ever seen, in the beautiful Pilliga state forest near Narrabri and we will stop them," said Zero Emissions executive director Matthew Wright.
SANTOS is attempting to appear conciliatory by claiming it will not develop 50 core wells across a wider region and will instead seek approval for 18 core and pilot wells in the state forest at Narrabri.
"The claim that SANTOS will only work in the Pilliga forest is crafted to make the Gunnedah community believe that they will be immune from this mega industrial project. When in fact its project will start in the Pilliga and very quickly move out across the landscape as wells deplete and its voracious appetite for gas from short-lived wells moves into high-value, food producing areas.
"The Pilliga is a big forest, with a range of unique woodlands, native species such as endangered koalas and rare ecosystems found nowhere else in the world, and yet the company is audaciously proposing to mine the area for gas.
"SANTOS uses its corporate might to plough through farming and rural communities all over Australia across over 170,000 square kilometres of private and publicly owned land. That is an area that’s more than twice the size of Tasmania. And if that's not enough, it now wants to start a campaign in NSW by completely stripping a forest bare in the most irresponsible way imaginable.
"SANTOS has proven that they are willing to flout the law and bend rules time and time again whether it’s failing to lodge their environmental management plans, covering up well blow outs, failing to flare methane emissions, failing to account for field-wide emissions and misrepresenting spills of untreated water. This is a company that can't be trusted anywhere near our precious natural water and forest resources.
"Significantly, the carbon impact of these operations is huge and largely unaccounted for. Weak legislation has allowed field-wide monitoring to be bypassed. Similar fields in the United States have been proven to cause methane leakage at rates that are raising international emissions and leaving investors exposed to unspecified risk.
"If the carbon liability from fugitive methane emissions, which are far more polluting than emissions from burning gas, was being properly accounted for using the appropriate field wide monitoring instrumentation, this exercise would run into the billions of dollars. This project is simply not economic and, therefore, needlessly disruptive and destructive.
"These coal seam gas fields have worse carbon emissions than coal when you take total lifecycle emissions into the equation, including properly accounting for fugitive methane emissions. This was proven by a Worley Parsons report I commissioned two years ago. So why bother?
"SANTOS's public relations machine knows that if you keep telling a lie long enough you hope that the public will believe it. They claim that NSW has a shortage of gas. This is untrue. NSW has never been a significant gas producer, it has always got the bulk of its gas from interstate where supplies are abundant. This is a manufactured scare campaign with no basis in fact" said Mr Wright
The story is that gas can be replaced with ordinary grid electricity which is safer and has much lower emissions. A 'COP 5.0' reverse cycle air conditioner producing 1kWh of heat in winter using electricity from the Australian electricity grid will produce 170grams of CO2e while a gas heater will produce 266-600grams depending on its age and whether it’s a wall furnace, hydronic heating or central heating unit
"With gas producing up to 300 per cent the emissions of a heat pump it is ludicrous that we are not moving to this traditional technology, which is simply reverse cycle air conditioning.
"SANTOS use their corporate lobbying dollars to invade unsuspecting country communities that don't want them, they create a narrative and use every means money can buy to get it out there, weaving it through the media and sadly buying favor from the weakest politicians and community leaders, who are always desperately in need of election campaign funds to keep their jobs.
"The NSW government needs to protect national parks and communities by preventing pillaging by greedy gas companies such as SANTOS. And if the NSW government won't deal with SANTOS then it’s time for Labor, Liberals and the Greens to step up federally and step in using Commonwealth powers to close the loopholes that SANTOS is exploiting.
“And if the NSW government won’t do it, an alliance of city community and environment groups and farmers will.
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