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GasFields Commission steps into Surat gas fight

10th February 2022

By: Esmarie Iannucci

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Australasia

     

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PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The GasFields Commission Queensland has stepped into the Surat gas project melee, calling on all stakeholders involved to urgently act to resolve ongoing coexistence issues emanating from Arrow Energy’s development activities at the project.

Community members have been raising concerns around Arrow’s development activities on farming land, and have questioned whether these activities are compliant with statutory requirements, including the exemption criteria under the Regional Planning Interest (RPI) Act.

To help address these concerns and provide certainty to the broader community, the Commission has formally requested the state government provide details of its expectations on compliance and how resource companies are meeting these statutory requirements under the RPI Act.

“The allegations and complaints levelled against Arrow are being driven by a common desire held by regional communities to understand what a resource company’s regulatory obligations are, and if they are complying with these requirements,” Commission CEO Warwick Squire said.

“That is why we are now calling on the government to finalise their investigations into compliance issues as a matter of urgency. This will provide much-needed community assurance that the State’s regulatory framework requirements are being enforced.”

Arrow Energy, a joint venture between majors Shell and PetroChina, in 2020 sanctioned the first phase of the A$10-billion Surat gas project, which included more than 600 wells to be drilled, focused on an expansion between Arrow’s current operational areas at Daandine and Tipton.

This initial phase will see construction of Inlet Processing Facilities (IPFs) at Shell-QGC-operated David and Harry Field compression stations.

Arrow in September last year made a commitment to the Surat basin landholders to meet its regulatory compliance obligations and make additional commitments beyond the statutory requirements.

“Arrow is deeply committed to achieving genuine co-existence where both agricultural businesses and gas can thrive together,” CEO Cecelia Wake said at the time.

“These commitments reflect the additional measures that Arrow is taking to achieve genuine co-existence on the high-value, intensively farmed land where many of our operations will take place.

“The multi-well pad and deviated wells model that Arrow developed in conjunction with our landholder forums is overwhelmingly positive for co-existence and minimises surface impacts on high-value agricultural land. This model also gives landholders much greater flexibility about the location of well pads (often on the edge or corner of fields), minimising interruption to cultivation.

“Arrow has acknowledged that, despite the benefits of deviated wells and multi-well pads for co-existence, mistakes were made in the early implementation of the model and that Arrow needs to do better - we have listened carefully to our landholders’ concerns and these commitments are designed to build a stronger foundation upon which the benefits of co-existence can be more fully realised,” she added.

The GasFields Commission Queensland has called on Arrow to do more to improve their relations with regional communities and landholders.

“The Commission has been monitoring Arrow’s performance against these commitments and whilst we have observed improvement, a ‘continuous improvement approach’ will be required to meet the community’s expectations,” said Squire.

“For the benefit of all stakeholders, it is vital the government urgently clarify outstanding issues relating to statutory obligations and compliance. As the Commission’s purpose is to manage and improve sustainable coexistence between landholders, regional communities and Queensland’s onshore gas industry, it is important we remain committed to overseeing how well the government is implementing and enforcing the current regulatory frameworks.

“Our oversight function has now led us to a crucial juncture where we are publicly calling on both government and industry to deliver marked improvements and reforms, thus allowing the sustainable coexistence between landholders, regional communities and Queensland’s onshore gas industry to advance,” Squire said.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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