Since 2012, both the NSW and Commonwealth Governments have put in place a range of additional measures designed to enhance an already extensive regulatory framework for the coal seam gas industry.
Before any field work can take place, government assessment is required and for most activities, separate assessments will be required by both the State and Commonwealth and in some cases, local governments.
Several departments maintain an oversight of the natural gas industry in NSW and they are:
On a Commonwealth level, the Independent Expert Scientific Committee is involved in assessment of major work and the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act serves to ensure impact on the environment and water resources is minimised.
For our exploration and appraisal program in Narrabri, applications for environmental approvals have been submitted for activities within Petroleum Exploration Lease 238 (PEL 238) and Petroleum Assessment Lease 2 (PAL 2).
We referred our exploration program, in its entirety, to the Commonwealth Government for assessment under the EPBC Act.
In October 2013, the Commonwealth Government determination was received which confirmed, following its assessment, that the Government was satisfied the exploration program will not significantly impact water resources or other Commonwealth Matters of National Environmental Significance.
All applications for State approvals have been submitted under Part 4 or 5 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, depending on the scope of work to be undertaken. State approval for some aspects of the exploration program have been received, other parts of the program are still under assessment.
Depending on the scope of works to be undertaken, approval will be sought by submission of a Review of Environmental Factors (REF) or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). See below for more details on REFs and EISs submitted by Santos
Prior to preparing an EIS, Santos is required to make a request for, and then address the Director-General’s Environmental Assessment Requirements (DGRs) for the proposed work. The request contains an outline of the scope of proposed activities and includes issues which need to be addressed by Santos in an EIS if the assessment process is to progress. The EIS is then prepared and assessed. Submissions on the EIS are received and addressed. If approval is granted a number of conditions may be imposed on the approval. In July 2014, the NSW Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) granted approval for the Bibblewindi Gas Exploration Expansion and the Dewhurst Gas Exploration Pilot Expansion, following submission of Environmental Impact Statements for the work.
In line with consent conditions, these documents will be added following the commencement of development of the Bibblewindi Pilot Expansion. In addition, annual review documentation will be added in March 2015. Complaints Register Register of Complaints received since approval of the expansion was granted in July 2014. Complaints registered for January 2015 - Nil February 2015 - Nil March 2015 - Nil
Annual review documentation will be added in March 2015. Complaints Register Register of Complaints received since approval of the expansion was granted in July 2014. Complaints registered for January 2015 - Nil February 2015 - Nil March 2015 - Nil
The proposed Project seeks to develop a gas field with production and appraisal wells, gas and water gathering systems and supporting infrastructure. Relevant applications for environmental approvals submitted to both the State and Commonwealth Governments can be viewed below. The Preliminary Environmental Assessment (PEA) for the Narrabri Gas Project was submitted to the NSW Government earlier this year. It is a description of the proposed Project and is the document from which the Government then issues its Director-General’s Requirements (also referred to as Secretary’s Requirements). These DGRs detail the issues which then need to be addressed by Santos in the Environmental Impact Statement for the Project. Santos is currently preparing a comprehensive EIS based on these DGRs. Preliminary Environmental Assessment The Director-General’s Requirements can be viewed on the Department of Planning website Santos has also referred the Narrabri Gas Project to the Commonwealth Government for assessment. This is the next step in the assessment process for the Project. Narrabri Gas Project EPBC referral of proposed action For more information on the process and details on how to make a public submission on the referral visit the Department of Environment website.
In 2008, Eastern Star Gas (ESG) obtained approval to construct the Narrabri CSG Gas Utilisation Project, which included the construction of a gas pipeline from Bibblewindi and expansion of the existing a power station at Wilga Park power station. Regulatory approvals are in place for the operation and expansion of the Wilga Park Power Station up to a maximum capacity of 40 megawatts. Works under the approval commenced in 2009 and are going. The power station currently operates using the existing installed capacity of 12 MW, and its capacity is expected to progressively development within the existing approval. Relevant approval documentation can be viewed below: