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Gasfield brawl forces commission to call for Government help

Business

Arrow Energy’s $10 billion Surat gas project has hit a wall of protest from farmers that has forced the Gasfield Commission to call on all sides to urgently act to resolve the issue.

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Farmers have raised concerns that Arrow’s coal seam gas project would create subsidence in the high-quality agricultural land around Cecil Plains.

Dalby farmer Zena Ronnfeldt said the State Government had so far fobbed off concerns from farmers about Arrow’s “unlawful actions”.

The call from the commission came as another CSG company, Shell QGC, announced plans for another 145 wells in the Western Downs. Shell also owns part of Arrow.

The issue has been bubbling away for months in the region and adds to years of conflict and suspicion among the farming community about the impacts and intrusion of CSG into the region. But there are two separate issues, a review and recommendations from the commission of the relevant legislation and Arrow’s activities.

Environmental group Lock the Gate said the Government needed to get tough with Arrow.

Landholders have been in dispute with the CSG companies since approval was given for the huge expansion of the sector in 2011.

The Gasfield Commission said it acknowledged “ongoing community concerns” about a number of recent development activities and whether they were compliant with legislation.

It has called on the State Government to enter the dispute and “provide details of its expectations on compliance and how resource companies are meeting these statutory requirements”.

The commission said there was a lack of clarity and transparency around a company’s obligations.

It said subsidence was a “significant concern” for landholders.

“The allegations and complaints levelled against Arrow are being driven by a common desire held by regional communities to understand what a resource company’s regulatory obligations are and if they are complying with these requirements,” the commission’s chief executive Warwick Squire said.

“That is why we are now calling on the Government to finalise their investigations into c0mpliance issues as a matter of urgency. This will provide much-needed community assurance that the State Government’s regulatory framework requirements are being enforced.”

Arrow said it appreciated that its activities were on some of the state’s most productive black soil and it accepted it had made some mistakes in its early work relating to multi-well pads and deviated wells.

It said it was committed to meeting regulatory requirements and would welcome Government input.

The Queensland Government said it had accepted the recommendations from the GasFields Commission’s Review of the Regional Planning Interests Act 2014. The government supports four of the recommendations and supports in principle the remaining three recommendations and will now prioritise their implementation.

These recommendations will help to address issues in the future, such as those arising with the status of Arrow Energy’s operations.

It is also investigating allegations made by two landholders on Arrow Energy.

Shell said its next phase of onshore natural gas in Queensland would mean mean 145 new wells between now and 2024.

The wells will connect to existing gas processing plants and will bring approximately 210 petajoules of gas to market over the next 15 years.

Shell Australia chairman Tony Nunan said the project would help boost the regional economy and employment and provide more gas to domestic and export customers.

“Gas will be crucial to the energy transition, allowing the integration of greater levels of renewable energy here and overseas, and a vital part of Shell’s strategy to provide more and cleaner energy solutions to supply the world’s energy needs,” Nunan said.

 

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