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Santos welcomes the New South Wales Independent Planning Commission’s (IPC) decision to green light the Narrabri Gas Project with conditions and thanks the Narrabri community for its strong support over many years.

Santos accepts the conditions proposed by the IPC and will now work with the Federal Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment as it considers its recommendation to the Minister on EPBC Act approval.  Key to this recommendation will be that the New South Wales’ assessment process has adequately addressed all relevant matters of national environmental significance.

Santos Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Gallagher said the New South Wales Government and IPC process has been comprehensive, transparent and inclusive, providing the community with confidence the project has been properly evaluated and determined to be in the public interest and capable of development without harm to water resources or the environment.

“Santos is excited about the prospect of developing the Narrabri Gas Project, a 100 per cent domestic gas project that can provide the lowest cost source of gas for NSW customers,” Mr Gallagher said.

“As the economy recovers from COVID-19, game-changing projects like the Narrabri Gas Project are critical to creating jobs, driving investment, turbo-charging regional development and delivering more competitive energy prices.

“This major step forward is welcome, but we must now gain the approval of the Federal Minister for the Environment under the EPBC Act as well as other subsequent approvals.”

While these approval processes are under way, Santos will commence planning for workover activities immediately on existing wells under its current exploration tenures.  Once all approvals are in place, this will be followed by a 12 to 18-month appraisal drilling program, including expansion of our water monitoring network. This appraisal will inform the final plans for the phased development of the project.

“IPC approval is a significant step forward for the Narrabri community, a majority of whom support the project and the jobs, business opportunities, infrastructure and community investment that will come with it.

“Santos is committed to our operational employees working and living locally with their families as part of the Narrabri community.

“Santos already has appraisal wells feeding the Wilga Park Power Station powering the equivalent of 32,000 households in north-west New South Wales, there are 16 Santos people and their families living and working locally and we’re buying goods and services locally with a spend last year of $2 million.

“The IPC outcome confirms that we have relied upon the best science to ensure that the Narrabri Gas Project can be developed safely and sustainably.  We are committed to now delivering on our promise to protect the environment and water resources as we proceed with project development.”

The Narrabri Gas Project has the potential to supply enough natural gas to meet up to half of NSW’s natural gas demand where more than one million family homes, ~33,000 businesses and ~300,000 jobs rely on natural gas as a source of energy. With the commercial and industrial sector currently making up almost 50 per cent of total gas consumption in NSW, reliable and competitively-priced natural gas is essential for a strong NSW economy.

“Now all we want to do is to get on with creating jobs in New South Wales and Narrabri, and making a real difference to people’s lives in rural and regional communities,” Mr Gallagher said.