Santos said that its Narrabri Gas Project in northwest New South Wales (NSW) has been referred to the Australian state’s Independent Planning Commission (IPC) for approval.

NSW Minister for Planning Robert Gordon Stokes has requested the IPC to carry out public hearings on the proposed project and subsequently to take a decision based on them.

The Narrabri Gas Project will see the development of a coal seam gas field made up of up to 850 gas wells on up to 425 well pads over 20 years. The project also involves the construction and operation of gas processing and water treatment facilities.

According to Santos, the minister’s referral of the project to the IPC is a major milestone in the independent approvals process.  The company said that the next step will be for the NSW Department of Planning to compile an assessment report and submit the report to the IPC for its consideration.

The commission has been given 12 weeks’ time for the IPC to decide on the project’s approval following the receipt of the assessment report from the NSW Department of Planning.

As per Santos managing director and CEO Kevin Gallagher, a decision on whether or not the Narrabri Gas Project can move ahead is important for the company to determine where it will allocate investments in new natural gas developments to supply gas to the east coast over the coming decade.

Narrabri Gas Project can cover half of the natural gas demand in NSW

Santos claimed that the gas project in the Narrabri area can potentially supply enough natural gas to address half of the natural gas demand in NSW.  The oil and gas company has committed 100% of the gas produced from the Narrabri project to the NSW market, which will be supplied through the existing Moomba to Sydney pipeline.

Kevin Gallagher said: “We have applied the best science to the environmental impact statement for Narrabri. We are confident that it will stand on its merits and that the project could be safely and sustainably developed to protect water resources and the environment.

“Santos will participate openly and transparently in the IPC process.

“If we can develop Narrabri gas, it will be the most competitively-priced gas for NSW customers, and it will always be cheaper than LNG imports, especially when gas prices are high in Asia.”