overview of possible impacts from coal seam gas
development in Northern Rivers, New South Wales
Project by Elfian Schieren, 2012
6 Potential for coal seam gas development in Northern
Rivers, New South Wales
6.4 Energy development in Northern Rivers region
Clean renewable energy and other sustainable initiatives have
immense support in the Northern Rivers. Lismore and Byron areas have the highest
uptake of rooftop solar in rural NSW (Regional Development Australia, 2012).
Regional Development Australia Northern Rivers recommended
that the government give priority for development of renewable energy sources in
the region and implement a Sustainable Energy Action Plan on the North Coast
(Regional Development Australia, 2012).
Sustain Northern Rivers group is a collaborative platform for
climate change action, created in 2008, which is based on fostering networks,
supporting local groups and projects and centralising resources (Sustain
Northern Rivers, 2010).
The Northern Rivers Regional Strategy has a large scale plan
for the ecological sustainability of the region developed with the partnership
of Northern Development Taskforce, Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of
Councils, the Northern Rivers Regional Development Board and Planning NSW (NSW
Government Department of Planning, 2006).
Coal seam gas development in the Northern Rivers has arisen
due to the fact that the region overlies the Clarence-Moreton Basin that
stretches from Southeast Queensland to Northeast NSW.
The main source of coal seam gas within the Basin is found in
the Walloon Coal Measures that extend into the Surat Basin of Southwest
Queensland (Arrow Energy, 2011).
There are currently three companies with mineral licenses in
the region (Figure 8).
Arrow Energy which was recently taken over by Shell and
PetroChina in 2009 is undertaking CSG exploration in the Clarence-Moreton Basin
(Arrow Energy, 2011). Red Sky Energy, in partnership with ERM Power, is
exploring and developing gas acreage held by Clarence Moreton Resources Pty Ltd
(Proactiveinvestors Australia, 2012).
Metgasco represents the third company involved in CSG
exploration within the Clarence Moreton Basin (Metgasco, no date). Metgasco is
developing the 145km Lions Way Pipeline from Western Downs region to Newcastle
(Figure 9) part of a pipe system connecting Wullumbilla to NewCastle for
transportation of CSG to Gladstone to produce and export LNG to China (Metgasco,
Metgasco has also been approved for the development of the
Richmond Valley Power Station in 2010 (Metgasco, 2010).
The coal seam gas industry is being considered by gas
companies as a major economic benefit to communities through the creation of
employment, regional investment and flow on benefits.
With regard to CSG development in the Northern Rivers region
Metgasco managing director Peter Henderson states: “The effects of these newly
created jobs and the significant expenditure will flow through to all parts of
the Northern Rivers community.
The new jobs created will mean that these people will buy more
food, fuel, furniture and electronic goods from local businesses.
The whole community will benefit from the growth of our
operations” (Henderson, P. (2012) Metgasco).
On the other hand lack of strategy and prioritisation around
coal seam gas development concern NSW farmers who question why this industry is
being allowed to potentially threaten food production, the environment and the
community when CSG reserves in NSW represent only 0.7% of all the profitably
extractable gas reserves in Australia (Thomas, 2011).
Figure 8. Coal seam gas exploration licenses and existing well
sites in Northern Rivers, Northeast NSW (Proactiveinvestors, 2012).
Figure 9. Lions Way pipeline route from Wullumbilla to
Gladstone, Newcastle (The Pipeliner, 2010).
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