Category: Media

CSG and Santos

Santos threatens to build invasive CSG (Coal Seam Gas) fields across north west NSW starting with Narrabri.

Santos has initial plans to build 850 CSG wells across the Pilliga Forest and farms in the Narrabri Shire. Santos has CSG exploration licences that cover most of north west NSW and have mapped 4 large gas fields.

CSG fields require a network of roads, gas, water and electricity lines, as well as massive amounts of industrial infrastructure to support them.

Santos has signed no guarantee that gas will flow to NSW, but has signed contracts to sell gas overseas. The independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) has stated that gas prices in NSW will be increased by at least $160 per household due to linking to the export market.

What Is Coal Seam Gas

CSG is methane that is held in coal seams. It differs from conventional gas, because it requires unconventional methods to extract. The methods involve removing the groundwater from the coal seam and hydraulic fracking and/or horizontal drilling. A cocktail of dangerous chemicals are used to drill, with or without fracking.

CSG Mining Is Not Safe

In the worst case, Santos’ drilling in the GAB (Great Artesian Basin) recharge zone in the Pilliga could stop the free-flow of bores right across the GAB area which covers 22% of Australia.
CSG waste water is also toxic. Testing in the Pilliga has shown it contains a range of heavy metals, radioactive substances, salts and hydrocarbons. During exploration, Santos has already:

  • contaminated an aquifer in the Pilliga with heavy metals and uranium at 20 times the safe drinking water standards
  • received fines for wastewater discharge into a local creek
  • been prosecuted for environmental harm as a result of at least 20 major spills and leaks of wastewater

What Does It Mean For Your Health And Your Children?

Research by Doctors for the Environment found that the current level of assessment, monitoring and regulation of CSG exploration and mining activities in Australia is inadequate to protect the health of current and future generations of Australians
They have outlined three (3) key areas where there is a potential for adverse human health impacts:

  • through contamination of water, air and soil (look at what has happened at Hopelands in Qld)
  • through diversion of water and land away from agriculture and food production
  • from mental health impacts on communities who have gas field changes imposed on them

In late 2013 an independent health survey found that 58% of the 113 surveyed residents from within the coal seam gasfield at Tara in Queensland reported that their health had been negatively impacted by CSG.

What Are The Impacts of CSG Fields On Local Landowners?

Property values may decline. The Queensland State Valuation Service applies a reduction of up to 20% in valuations of properties with CSG production wells located on them for rating and taxation purposes. Personal experience of property sales, suggest closer to 50% value reduction.
You may be underinsured. The NSW Chief Scientiest and Engineer, Prof. Mary O’Kane has stated that the CSG industry in NSW is largely under-protected.
Producers/farmers may be held liable if they have signed an NVD and their livestock are contaminated. A report by Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation cited a Queensland case where a landholder was advised by their supply chain partners that they would be liable for CSG related contamination. Neither the CSG company nor the insurer would agree to indemnify the landholder against that risk.
Bank finance access may be affected. Rabobank has stated that “… the net impact of CSG mining activities on a banking relationship may include a diminished production base that reduces a borrower’s ability to service debt, a diminished asset base, … and diminished land value, which affects borrowing levels”.
What about your water, is it safe? The Chief Scientist of NSW Prof. Mary O’Kane recently stated that safeguards protecting water supplies from CSG are not adequate. She also stated that “there is currently no assurance that impacts are being comprehensively detected”.
What is it like living in a gasfield? In rural areas, gas wells can be drilled as close as 200m to your home. You may end up with an increasing number of wells on your propertly, plus pipelines, roads, compressor stations, and water holding plants. There will be lights, gas flares, noise, traffic and unknown staff with unlimited access to your property 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.

More Information

Find our more and get involved.
Call Phil on 0428 431 548 or Megan on 0427 476 232

Two traditional owners lock to machinery at Santos Leewood CSG site in the Pilliga

  • Lock on follows action of 300 people at the Leewood CSG site yesterday

  • Total charged at Santos Pilliga protests in the last 6 weeks is now at 29

  • These protests come days after Santos wrote off the value of the project

Two men are risking arrest as part of a relentless community campaign against Santos’ coal seam gas project in the Pilliga forest in North West NSW. One of the men is a Gamilaraaly traditional owner of the Pilliga and the other man is a traditional owner of Yuin country on the South Coast. At the same time around 20 people have blocked access to the main access road into the site.

The community is calling on the State Government to cancel all CSG exploration licences across the North West region.

Paul Spearim is a 54 year old Gamilaraay man who is currently locked on: “It’s about the protection of my traditional connection to Biliga and the Gamilaraay nation.PP-Paul-Lionel-lockon-22-02-2016

“With Santos coal seam gas its about the destruction of our Gali (water). We have an obligation to protect the waterways and aquifers of the Gamilaraay nation. We have ancient cultural knowledge of the groundwater aquifers, including the Great Artesian Basin and the seven rivers that lie beneth.”

Lyle Davis/Andy (Brierley/Biety) is a 58 year old Yuin man also locked on: “I’m up here, black duck from Moruyo, supporting the emu, Gamilaraay, because we’ve got the same issues and problems in my Yuin country. The elders keep saying ‘leave it in the ground’ and it’s the same issues across the land – the pilliaging and plundering of our natural resources – and we do not see any benefits.”

Paul Spearim ended: “Hopefully more Gamilaraay people, other first nations people and other supporters will join our efforts to protect Gamilaraay sacred lands.”

Yesterday over 300 people defied a police road block to rally at the gates of the Leewood facility and around 80 people breached the fence to occupy the construction site. One man was arrested.


Huge community rally protests Santos’ CSG operation in the Pilliga calling on the company to withdraw

Over 300 people have defied a police roadblock to protest the construction of Santos’ controversial coal seam gas waste water treatment facility. The protest is calling on Santos to pull out of unconventional gas in North West NSW two days after Santos wrote down its assets in the region to zero.


On Friday, Santos released its full year results, announcing a $2.7 billion loss and writing down its Gunnedah Basin assets to zero. Santos also reclassified its Gunnedah Basin reserves from ‘probable’ to ‘contingent.’

Three hundred people have this morning gathered to protest at Santos’ construction site in the Pilliga, calling on the company to pull out of their unconventional gas projects in the region.

Sally Hunter from Harparary is at the protest and said, “The gas beneath us is now worth nothing to Santos, but for all of us, the Pilliga, the farmland of the North West and the groundwater of the Great Artesian Basin are priceless.

“We’ve got businesses, farms and lives to live out here. We’re here today to tell Santos to do the right thing by the community and withdraw from all unconventional gas in the New South Wales North West.”

David Quince, a farmer from the Liverpool Plains, said, “With Santos posting a $2.7 billion loss last year, the business case for unconventional gas in eastern Australia is looking as risky and dangerous as its environmental and social impacts.”

The construction of Santos’ Leewood coal seam gas waste water treatment facility has been plagued by protests for the last eight weeks, with local farmers and Traditional Owners joined by people from as far afield as Adelaide and North Queensland to support the protests.

PP Conv - inside - armlock circle - Paul speerim - kjb - 21-2-16

A local community group, People for the Plains is current taking court action against the Government’s approval of the facility under gas exploration regulation on the grounds that it should have required a full environmental assessment and development consent. But neither Santos nor the Government has taken any action to halt construction until the case is heard in April.





NSW Nurses and Midwives Association supports Pilliga CSG protest

Today in the Pilliga a contingent of health care workers are peacefully protesting Santos’ 850 well Narrabri Gas Project proposal and the current construction of the Leewood CSG wastewater facility.

Nurses and midwives at the protest are joined and supported by the New South Wales Nurses and Midwives Association. In 2014 the NSWNMA passed a resolution to support the actions of members protesting this dangerous industry in their pursuit of health for all. The protesters call on the NSW Government to ban all CSG activity in NSW.

Nurses and midwives at the site say as health carers they felt a responsibility to stand up for the health of the environment as its direct human health impacts. They are concerned about the impacts to the Great Artesian Basin, the release of toxins and known carcinogens into the environment, the harm to communities created by gas companies who cause conflict and division, the health risks to workers and the social impact on their families, the impact on farming and food production and the long term risks to the health of future generations.

Union delegate Angie Gittus from Murwillumbah says, “It’s our obligation as health care workers to protect health and prevent harm and as health carers we feel a responsibility to address climate change which we know to be the biggest public health risk we are facing. “

Heather Dunn is a midwife at Lismore Base Hospital and also a union delegate. “As a midwife and a mother I am here to stand up to protect today’s children and those yet to be born. Studies show that the risks to small and unborn children from CSG are far greater than the risks to adults.

“With mounting evidence on the impacts of CSG on human health it is becoming clear that this industry must be halted in NSW before it gains a foothold.

“Peaceful protest is increasing in the Pilliga as the nation becomes aware of the many different impacts this industry will have on human life. Health is just one of those impacts” finished Heather.

On Tuesday five women aged between 50 and 75 were arrested whilst dressed as ‘climate angels’ at the Santos Leewood site. These arrests bring the total number of protestors charged at the site to 27 over the past month.

Five ‘Climate Angels’ arrested at Santos’ Leewood plant in Pilliga

Today five middle aged and elderly women dressed as “Climate Guardian Angels” were dragged away and arrested whilst blocking the road into Santos’ Leewood CSG wastewater treatment plant. They’ve taken this action as part of the escalating campaign against Santos’ Narrabri Gas Project in the Pilliga.

PP Angel arrest2The Angels blocked access to the Santos Leewood facility and interrupted construction works there by standing together and holding red fabric across the road. The group also attended the Paris Climate Talks in December 2015 where they led a march holding the red line of fabric.

Great grandmother June Norman from Brisbane is one of the heavenly host that graced the frontline with their presence today. “The red line we held today symbolises a boundary that cannot be crossed, a planetary boundary, a climatic boundary. The red line symbolises the urgency of keeping fossil fuels in the ground to avoid catastrophic warming.

“We have held the red line at the Pilliga frontline to symbolise the end of coal seam gas in NSW.PP Angel arrest1

“I am a great grandmother who is concerned about the future and what I am leaving or my grandchildren. Australia is a beautiful, safe country that I have enjoyed. It is my duty to do whatever I can to protect it for future generations. If it takes civil disobedience to protect our natural world then this is what I am prepared to do.”

The opposition to the Santos Narrabri Gas Project in the Pilliga is escalating with 24 arrested, a total of 27 people charged, and numerous infringements. In addition another 11 people have risked arrest through locking on to machinery or gates but have avoided charges.

Since AGL’s announcement last Thursday that it’s abandoning its Gloucester Gas Field and its expansion at Camden, Santos’ Narrabri Gas Project is the last remaining CSG proposal in NSW and is the central target for anti-CSG protestors in NSW.PP Angel arrest3

Leewood CSG plant is the subject of a legal challenge regarding the legality of its approval. Narrabri group People for the Plains and the EDO will argue its assessment should require public consultation and an EIS. The case is set for hearing on the 6th and 8th April.

The five women aged between 50 and 75 are currently in custody at the Narrabri Police Station.

Pilliga protest continues: sixth generation local farmer blocks Santos’ CSG work site

  • Farmers call for Government to suspend Santos’ operations while court case is heard

  • Protests resume after pepper spray incident

A 73 year-old sixth generation farmer from the Coonamble area has this morning become the latest person to block access to the construction site of Santos’ Leewood CSG waste water facility in the Pilliga forest in North West NSW.

Neil Kennedy lock-on 03-02-2016 with Ann

Neil Kennedy has locked himself by the neck to the front gate of the construction site, and is joined this morning by local and regional supporters.
Mr Kennedy said, “I don’t think it’s right that Santos can build this waste water treatment plant, with all the risks involved, while a court case is still underway to sort out whether its approval without a proper environmental assessment was lawful or not.

“The fact that Santos is pushing on with construction while the Leewood facility’s approval is the subject of a pending court case suggests the company is overly confident of an ultimate approval. Why can’t they wait for due process before they press on in the face of so much opposition and legal uncertainty?”

“I’m willing to risk getting arrested here today because the Government and Santos don’t seem to respect how high the stakes are for us out here when it comes to groundwater. If an old farmer is chaining himself to someone else’s gate, maybe that will show them how much our artesian water means to us, and how seriously we will fight to protect it, if the Government won’t.

Neil Kennedy lock-on 03-02-2016 with othersSarah Ciesiolka, a potato and peanut farmer from Wee Waa joined Mr Kennedy at the protest today. Ms Ciesiolka said, “Our local community group has challenged the legality of the Government’s approval for this waste water plant, which will process up to a million litres a day of CSG water, produce huge volumes of brine that will need to be disposed of somehow, and conduct an experimental irrigation program.

“With all the spills and problems that coal seam gas has already had here in the Pilliga, we expected the Government to be on the public’s side and require Santos to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement for a risky and large scale development like this. It’s not too much to ask for them to stop work while our court case is heard. We will keep protesting until the Government asks Santos to stop work here.”

The past month has seen 16 people arrested at protests at Leewood and hundreds of people participating. Yesterday a grandmother from South Australia was pepper sprayed whilst vulnerable and locked on to machinery at the site.

A directions hearing for the People for the Plains court challenge to the approval of the Leewood facility will be held at the Land and Environment Court in Macquarie Street, Sydney, on Friday

Protests halt Santos’ Pilliga CSG operation again

  • New CEO Kevin Gallagher faces community push on first day

  • Two women from Santos’ home state risk arrest and halt work

Two women from gas company Santos’ home state of South Australia have locked onto an excavtor and halted all construction work at the company’s controversial Leewood CSG wastewater treatment facility in North West NSW, on the first day at work for the company’s new CEO, Kevin Gallagher.Kerri Tonkin & Cyd Fenwick lock-on 1-2-2016

The women have taken action as part of a growing community campaign against the Leewood facility and the broader Narrabri Gas Project in North West NSW. Over the past month, 14 people have been arrested as part of the protests, with hundreds taking part.

Cyd Fenwick, 46 from the Adelaide Hills, said, “We grew up with the idea that Santos is a great South Australian company, but out here in the Pilliga, they’re damaging the Australia and their reputation, and they’ve got to be stopped.

“We want the new CEO of Santos, Kevin Gallagher to know that the Narrabri Gas Project in the Pilliga will be opposed at every turn. The project is a liability and Santos should cut its losses and get out before it loses out further.”

Kerri Tonkin, 47 from the Eyre Peninsula, said “I’m here for the water, this is not just a local issue, it affects us all. This 850 well coal seam gas project threatens the recharge function of the Great Artesian Basin and is an issue of national significance.”

“Santos is doing serious damage to its reputation by persisting with this trouble plagued project in the Pilliga. The project has a terrible environmental record and no social license with the community.”

The Leewood CSG facility is designed to treat up to 1 million litres of toxic CSG water per day and to irrigate crops on site with the treated waste. Already there have been over 20 spills and leaks of toxic CSG water during exploration alone.

The Leewood facility is the subject of a court case by local group People for the Plains that will question the legality of its approval and argue its assessment should involve a full Environmental Impact Statement and public consultation. A directions hearing will be held on Friday in Sydney.

Environment Minister’s cousin blocks access to Santos construction work, appeals for rejection of Narrabri CSG project

Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s first cousin has taken the extraordinary action of suspending herself twelve metres in the air to block access to construction vehicles and interrupt work at Santos’ controversial Leewood coal seam gas wastewater plant in the Pilliga, North West NSW.

Jen Hunt-treesit2-25-01-2016

Jen Hunt is a 51 year-old retired social worker, a mother of two and step-mother of six. She is the latest of a series of people that have taken peaceful direct action and risked arrest to stop the controversial project over the last two months. She wants to send a message to her cousin about the need to protect the Great Artesian Basin, so has suspended on from a platform hanging from tree to halt Santos’ construction work.

“Santos’ Narrabri Gas Project in the Pilliga is an issue of national significance. Santos’ plans to drill 850 coal seam gas wells straight through a critical recharge area of the Great Artesian Basin, threatening this vital water source for communities, agriculture and ecosystems across 22% of inland Australia.”

“I’m up this tree today to call on my cousin Greg Hunt to use his powers under the Federal EPBC Act to reject Santos’ application for the Narrabri Gas Project in the Pilliga for its unacceptable risks to our precious groundwater resources.”

“With love, I’m asking my cousin to start putting the people before the polluters. We do not need this expensive gas which is destined for export, we certainly don’t need it at risk of destroying one of the most critical water resources we have in Australia.”

Jen Hunt-treesit-cherrypicker-25-01-2016The Leewood wastewater treatment facility targeted today is the subject of a court case by local group “People for the Plains”. The group will argue the facility should require a separate assessment process including an Environmental Impact Statement and a public consultation period. Leewood is designed to treat up to 1 million litres of csg wastewater from exploratory works in the Pilliga. Protestors are targeting this facility for its inherent risks and its significance to the ongoing development of the Narrabri Gas Project.

The Narrabri Gas Project has been ‘called in’ under the Federal Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act for its risk to water resources, and is therefore within Greg Hunt’s scope of influence.

Jen is joined today by 20 supporters including two ‘climate angels’ who are part of an international theatrical movement for peaceful climate action. In the past two weeks ten people have been charged for involvement in protests at the Leewood site.

Two arrested at Santos’ Leewood CSG treatment plant in the Piliga, taking number of recent arrests to 7

Pilliga mouse in dress 21-01-2016This morning two people were arrested a peaceful protest against the controversial Santos Leewood CSG wastewater treatment facility in the Pilliga bringing the number of arrests over the past three weeks to seven.

Today 44 year-old Gabrielle Laver from Tabulum was arrested and charged with Disobey Directive and Obstruction for delaying a convoy of trucks entering the Leewood site. Police dragged Gabrielle from the road to allow the convoy to proceed. 49 year-old Jason Jol from the Central Coast was arrested and charged with Tresspas on the inside of the facility where he ventured to halt to work on site.

Protesters are vowing to escalate their campaign at the Leewood facility to draw attention to the broader plan for the 850 well Narrabri Gas Project. The Leewood facility is designed to treat up to 1 million litres of toxic CSG wastewater every day from exploratory works in the Pilliga.

Jason Jol describes his motives for protesting this morning. “Santos’ plans for 850 wells in the Pilliga not only threatens the recharge function of the Great Artesian Basin but is also the tip of the iceberg regarding the longer term plans to industrialise North West NSW with coal seam gas.

“People from right across NSW and beyond are now flocking to the Pilliga region to support the Gamilaraay and other local’s efforts to protect their land, water and communities from coal seam gas.

“This is an issue of national significance,” finished Jason.

Protest activity began at the Leewood CSG treatment site in early December when construction of Phase 2 of the facility commenced. Since that time twelve people have risked arrest through locking themselves to gates, vehicles or machinery, and a total of seven people have been arrested and charged.

Santos workers endanger protestor’s safety at the controversial Leewood CSG facility in the Pilliga

Dylan lockon 19-1-2016A 44 year-old women and a 24 year-old man this morning locked on to an excavator inside the controversial Santos Leewood CSG wastewater treatment facility near the Pilliga forest in North West NSW. The pair was positioned central to the earth moving works on site and their presence should have triggered Occupational Health and Safety regulations to cease operations of the heavy machinery until members of the public were offsite.

The actions of the pair were part of an escalating community campaign targeting the Leewood facility and its role in the proposed 850 well Santos Narrabri Gas Project.

Ian Sutton from the Central Coast was on site this morning. “The Santos contractors blatantly disregarded OH&S regulations by working only metres away from protestors and to the two people locked on to the excavator. We entered this site to make our statement about the unacceptable risks of the Narrabri Gas Project and this Leewood CSG water irrigation experiment; we’ve gone to such lengths because all other options to address the risks of this project have already been tried.”

“Why are Santos so desperate to roll out this project now? The facility is the subject of a legal challenge by a Narrabri community group that will question the legality of its approval, yet they’re forging forward before the case is heard.”

“As Santos’ share price tumbles to record lows they are clearly desperate to complete the risky and unproven CSG water treatment works at Leewood to the extent that they flaunt regulations and endanger lives to do so.”

Michelle Agius is a 44 year-old graphic artist from Bridgewater, Queensland who locked on today. “I took the action today because I understand the vital significance of the recharge area of the Great Artesian Basin that underlies the Pilliga.”

“Coal seam gas here in the Pilliga puts at risk complex groundwater systems and ecologies. Once these systems are unbalanced we cannot reverse that damage.”

Dylan Sweeney, a 24 year old Brisbane man also locked on today. “I came here to help protect the Pilliga forest and our irreplaceable groundwater resources in unity with people from all walks of life who are opposed to the Narrabri Gas Project.”

“I locked on today to support the Gamilaraay people assert their rights over Country, with their blessing.”

Today’s protest follows the arrest of three ‘Knitting Nannas Against Gas’ at the gates of the facility yesterday and an occupation of the site on Sunday by over 130 people led by Gamilaraay Traditional Custodians. Protests have been ongoing since construction began at Leewood in early December.