Western NSW gas exploration sites identified By Martin Kovacs, 7 Jun 2017

The NSW government has implemented the Strategic Release Framework in the NSW Gas Plan, advising that strategic conventional gas exploration sites have been identified in western NSW.

The government has advised that geologists have identified the Bancannia Trough north of Broken Hill and the Pondie Range Trough north of Wilcannia for initial assessment by an independently chaired expert group, the Advisory Body for Strategic Release.

“Areas for potential release will focus on conventional gas opportunities only, which will be subject to a rigorous regime that puts community and the environment first,” the government stated.

The Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA) has welcomed the announcement.

“The industry hopes that this signals, at last, recognition that developing local gas supply is essential for NSW industry and residential customers,” APPEA Chief Executive Dr Malcolm Roberts commented.

“For three years, gas development has been suspended in NSW. During that time, customers have faced rising gas prices and tightening supply. We now have the unsustainable situation where NSW produces just 3% of its gas needs, leaving local customers to pay a premium to obtain interstate gas.

“That situation puts at risk the jobs of the 300,000 people working in gas-dependent industries in NSW. Gas is not just energy for industry – it is also an indispensable part of many manufacturing processes, as a feedstock or fuel. If the government and the opposition in NSW wishes to protect these jobs and create jobs, they should support responsible development of NSW’s gas resources.”

Roberts stated that “industry congratulates the NSW government for taking this first step and urges it to do more”.

“The promised advisory body to assess land for release must be established immediately,” he stated. “Regional assessments need to be started as soon as possible.

“If NSW wants to attract investment to develop gas resources, it must show that it has transparent processes in place. In particular, it should draw on the experiences of other jurisdictions in terms of acreage release and regulatory systems.”