Santos desperately tries to recoup $1 billion loss on trouble-plagued Narrabri CSG project by lodging EIS


  • Santos planned to drill 850 CSG wells through recharge aquifers of Great Artesian Basin.
  • Narrabri scheme has caused much damage, including contaminating aquifer with uranium.
  • Protests will continue until NSW Government ends state’s last standing CSG proposal.

Gas fracking giant Santos has lodged its application to drill coal seam gas production wells in the Pilliga Forest and neighbouring productive farmland, with almost 1000 wells originally planned, in a desperate attempt to recoup the $1 billion it has lost on the trouble-plagued Narrabri CSG scheme.

Santos has already hived off the Narrabri scheme with other assets to offload to try to repay its massive $4.5 billion debt, including the $1 billion it has lost on the Narrabri folly.

Santos is hoping an approved Environmental Impact Statement will make the project more attractive to prospective buyers who would be very wary considering the environmental damage the project has already caused as well as the huge protests against coal seam gas in Narrabri and all across NSW.

The Narrabri scheme is the last coal seam gas proposal left in the state after the NSW Government terminated Metgasco’s leases on the Far North Coast and AGL surrendered its licence at Gloucester on the Mid North Coast.

“Santos wants approval to drill nearly coal seam gas production wells in the Pilliga Forest and the surrounding productive Narrabri farmland, with almost 1000 wells originally planned,” said Wilderness Society Newcastle Campaign Manager Naomi Hodgson. “Santos has a long tragic history of failure in the Pilliga, with at least 20 toxic coal seam gas waste water spills, including the contamination of an aquifer with uranium and other toxic heavy metals. Those spills came from just 20 wells and Santos now wants approval to drill hundreds of CSG wells through the recharge aquifers of the Great Artesian Basin, an essential water source for Outback Australia. “We should not be risking our precious water resources and the Great Artesian Basin on a toxic project that Santos has deemed worthless and wants to offload. “The Narrabri coal seam gas scheme has been dogged by protests by farmers, townspeople, Traditional Owners and environmentalists for years now and they will continue to fight this project. An overwhelming 96 per cent of landholders representing 3.2 million hectares of land that Santos holds leases over have declared themselves gasfield free.

“It’s untenable that the locals have been stuffed for years by Santos and the state government. It’s about time the National Party stood up for the farmers of north-west NSW and pressure its coalition colleagues to listen to the people and terminate the hated remaining CSG scheme in the state. “The Narrabri coal seam gas scheme will do nothing to ease gas prices in NSW as gas is piped to Queensland for export at much higher prices.”

Santos has now lost more than $1 billion on a project it bought for $924 million just four years ago. The $588 million impairment effectively writes off the Narrabri coal seam gas project, which was valued at $543 million last year after an $808 million writedown. Santos also downgraded the Gunnedah gas reserves from proven to contingent.

The Pilliga is our last great inland forest, home to many endangered and threatened species including the koala, Pilliga mouse, black-striped wallaby and spotted-tail quoll.

The Pilliga is a major recharge zone for the Great Artesian Basin, an essential water source for Outback Australia, and is also part of the Murray Darling basin, Australia’s biggest and most important food bowl, and a major recharge zone for the Great Artesian Basin

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