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Australia: Federal Government Approves Coal Seam Gas Projects in Central Queensland
Source: eastwestcenter.org
Source Date: Friday, October 22, 2010
Focus: Institution and HR Management
Country: Australia
Created: Oct 24, 2010

THE Federal Government has given conditional approval to two major coal seam gas projects in central Queensland.
Environment Minister Tony Burke announced today that his department had given conditional environmental approvals for Gladstone Liquefied Natural Gas (GLNG) - a $16 billion joint venture between Santos, Malaysia's Petronas and France's Total - and BG Group's Queensland Curtis LNG.
"I have decided that these projects can go ahead without unacceptable impacts on matters protected under national environmental law," Mr Burke said.
He said there were a total of 300 conditions which must be met.
"We must protect the Great Artesian Basin, our threatened species, our waterways and the Great Barrier Reef," the minister said.
"Today's announcement involves more than 300 conditions which provide these environmental protections and allow the jobs and investment in Queensland to go ahead."
The approvals were delayed earlier this year by Mr Burke's predecessor, Peter Garrett, who was concerned about the projects' potential impact on groundwater and the Great Barrier Reef.
The project involves 2650 coal seam gas wells being drilled over 25 years in Queensland's Surat and Bowen Basins, a 435km steel pipeline from the Fairview gas fields to Gladstone, and an liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant and export facility on Curtis Island.
It received Queensland Government environmental approval in May, based on a 13,500 page environmental impact study, and has entered into 42 agreements with indigenous groups.
The project is expected to create about 5000 construction jobs and 1000 permanent operational jobs from the start of shipments of LNG in 2014.
GLNG has agreements to sell 1.5 million tonnes a year of LNG to Total for 20 years starting in 2014, and 3.5 million tonnes a year of LNG to Petronas over the same period - Australia's largest trade agreement with Malaysia.
QGC Pty Limited, a BG Group business, received Queensland Government approval for the Queensland Curtis LNG (QCLNG) project in June.
Green groups and farmers have raised concerns about coal seam gas development. This week four toxic chemicals - benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene (BTEX) - were discovered in eight exploration wells owned by the Australia Pacific LNG in the Surat Basin.
The Queensland Government has ruled out a moratorium on the industry, which environmentalists say poses a threat to marine life on the Great Barrier Reef and underground water, and could seriously degrade land.
Mr Burke said one of the more critical conditions surrounded how to deal with the issue of water within coal seams.
"There has been a concern as to whether or not there would be an issue of backfill from the Great Artesian Basin.
"The report from Geoscience Australia made clear that they recommended a precautionary approach on this because for individual projects they viewed it as very limited in terms of danger," he said.
"There was a concern as to what the accumulative impact might be."
Mr Burke said the conditions included a testing regime which would work out whether or not the seams are porous.
"If there is a finding beyond trigger levels that they are in fact porous and are interconnected to the Great Artesian Basin, in those circumstances they would have to be re-pressurised.
"That may involve reinjection."
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