Australian LNG operator Santos has secured approval for its A$3.6 billion ($2.6 billion) Narrabri gas project in northwest New South Wales, but with 134 conditions attached.
The New South Wales Independent Planning Commission said it has imposed strict conditions on a “phased” approval of the Narrabri coal seam gas project.
The project has faced quite a backlash from critics as the state panel said it received more than 11,000 written submissions. These were, among others, related to groundwater, climate change, and health impacts.
“Following its detailed deliberations, the Commission concludes the project is in the public interest and that any negative impacts can be effectively mitigated with strict conditions,” the commission said.
Further approvals needed
In a separate statement released on Wednesday, Santos welcomed the approval and accepted all the imposed conditions.
“Santos is excited about the prospect of developing the Narrabri Gas Project, a 100 percent domestic gas project that can provide the lowest cost source of gas for NSW customers,” CEO Kevin Gallagher said.
“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,” he said.
While these approval processes are under way, Santos will start planning for workover activities immediately on existing wells under its current exploration tenures.
Once all approvals are in place, Santos would start a 12 to 18-month appraisal drilling program, including expansion of the firm’s water monitoring network.
Furthermore, this appraisal will inform the final plans for the phased development of the project.
According to Santos, the Narrabri project has the potential to supply enough natural gas to meet up to half of NSW’s natural gas demand.