Santos forced to stop CSG work as protests continue

Protests and blockades are continuing near the Pilliga State forest where Santos was forced to stop work on its CSG drilling program yesterday.

More than 20 people opposed to the company’s operations descended on the area, forcing Santos to halt construction on a flowline.

Pilliga resident Maria Rickert said the group is concerned CSG activity being undertaken by Santos will lead to lasting environmental impacts.

“It’s appalling that we’ve come to the point where ordinary citizens and property owners have to take time and risks to themselves to stop a dangerous industry from doing irreparable damage to our water resources,” Rickert said.

Activism in the area has been common as some residents accuse the company of not having a social licence in to operate.

Narrabri farmer Stuart Murray said Santos was ignoring the community’s “clear requests” to remain CSG-free, The Northern Daily Leader reported.

“We are all questioning why Santos has been allowed to lay such costly and extensive pipelines across the forest when they are only supposed to be in their coal seam gas exploration phase,” he said.

As part of its work in NSW, Santos plans to drill 15 exploration wells in the Pilliga State forest and restart existing pilots that have been shut in since Santos took over Narrabri operations in November 2011.

Santos says it has all the approvals required to undertake CSG activity.

“Following a thorough assessment and analysis of the scientific information provided by Santos, the Commonwealth determined the program will not significantly impact water resources or other Matters of National Environmental Significance,” the company said.

 “While we acknowledge and respect the right of individuals to lawfully and safely protest, we are committed to carrying out this work in a safe and timely manner.

“While we have support locally for our activities, we continue to engage with the community to build additional support and understanding of our work and address concerns they may have.”

Image: The Wilderness Society

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