It’s the 7000-page report that details everything the Santos Narrabri Gas Project is doing, but it’s not hard to see how we might all feel a bit overwhelmed staring down (literally) kilograms of paperwork.
And for all the information that it delivers about the project’s operations and impact, it’s not exactly an engrossing read. Gripping thriller or page-turning pot-boiler this isn’t.
You might remember when we dove into Chapter 11, which detailed the impact of the project on ground water. Well, that was only the beginning.
Let’s put this in perspective. If you printed the report on single page A4 sheets, the entire document would stand just over 72cm high.
The good news is, we’ve done some reading and condensed the 7000-page epic into this three-part summary.
Part one of our reading list looks at chapters one through 10 of the report, with chapters 11 through 34 coming soon.
Each chapter links to the relevant section of the report and also to recent media coverage of the gas project.
Santos Environmental Impact Statement, Chapters 1 – 10
The Santos Narrabri Gas Project proposes a 30-year operation, which would remove natural gas from the earth by drilling into a coal seam and releasing the gas from the coal by extracting the water holding it in place, then collecting the gas as it flows to the surface.
The project is located in the Pillga forest about 20km south-west of Narrabri. The project area is 95,000 hectares, while the disturbance footprint would affect up to 1000 hectares. The target coal seams are located between 500 and 1200 metres below ground.
The Narrabri Gas Project can produce sufficient gas to meet up to half of NSW's natural gas demand and put downward pressure on prices.
The various state government and local government (Narrabri Shire Council) rules, conditions and obligations the project must meet.
This chapter runs through the federal government laws it must abide by and how it has done so. It says Santos has a clean environmental record, while pointing out environmental fines it has received are the historical legacy of former site owners Eastern Star Gas.
This large chapter nuts and bolts of all the infrastructure that will make up the 850-well project. Includes a gas processing facility, water treatment facilities, workers' accommodation, roads, gas field layout, telecommunication towers.
The extracted salty water will be treated at the Leewood and Bibblewindi water treatment facilities, where it will be stored in double lined ponds. That treated water will be managed through a combination of water storage facilities and reuse options such as irrigation and stock watering. Treated water will also be released in the Bohena Creek, which runs through the Pilliga.
On average about 1.5 gigalitres of water will be extracted every year for 25 years.
The salt removed from the treated water - average of 48 tonnes a day - will be crystallised and transported to a licensed landfill.
Santos chose its Pilliga site because it had plenty of gas, good geological conditions, it is close to highways, while nearby Narrabri can host workers. This chapter also talks about what the project alternatives were.
Key issues to come out of consultation include groundwater drawdown, land access rights and compensation, drilling and well integrity, water management and treatment, the number and location of wells, local employment, economic benefits and social impacts such as housing affordability. Also outlines how EIS consultation will roll out.
Explains the methods used to identify and assess the impact/risk the project will have in different fields such as the environment, ecology and Aboriginal cultural heritage. The results of the impact/risk assessment are revealed in later chapters.