Australia Wide – Narrabri’s Gas Project

Australia Wide –  Narrabri’s Gas Project

Do you like this meat as much as the Wilty Polls? Ah yeah… To 8 year old Neil Kennedy this is the adoring grandmother from central casting. She spoils me, and she like oh it buys me stuff and she takes me to like special places and holidays. But beneath the surface the young boy also recognizes his gran is an activist well she goes meetings and she is a gas fighter. When I came back from overseas I went jillarooing and one of my old school friends said, there is going to be a B&S you should come back for it. Born and educated in Sydney Anne Kennedy married a farmer half a century on she’s become one of the most high-profile opponents of coal seam gas in New South Wales. Central to her concerns is the impact the coal seam gas production will have on water. We’re the driest inhabited continent on Earth and we have this groundwater this ancient groundwater under 22% of Australia it’s finite water it’s ancient it’s Jurassic water and it’s rapidly running out and the only reason we can bring it to the surface because it’s so deep is the pressure where they want to drill for gas in the pilliga is the southern recharge of the Great Artesian Basin it is the single most vital area in New South Wales how deep is it 640 meters deep and flows now it’s been capped and piped and reticulated it goes for about 14 kilometres this particular bore. Like countless people on the land Anne Kennedy relies on water from the Great Artesian basin deep beneath the surface to run her farm. Bores pump water onto dry land and network of pipes takes the precious resource to the far-flung corners of this Western New South Wales property. If we lose the Great Artesian Basin it’ll clear up the whole of inland Australia people can’t live there anymore. The protest movement has been standing in the way of large-scale CSG production in New South Wales. Santos is the last developers standing. AGL announced last year it would not proceed with its Gloucester project the government has brought back Metgasco’s licenses in the Northern Rivers. But Santos is plowing ahead proposing to build a massive gas field of more than 800 wells in northwestern New South Wales. We drill down to our coals which are around about 500 meters to 1,200 metres deep when we hit the coals we kick off into horizontal drilling sections so we follow the coal seams alone. Santos is promising to meet half of New South Wales gas needs over 20 years while its gas drilling process does not involve fracking it will result in the extraction of a large amount of water. That wastewater will be treated and the byproduct is tons of salt brine. Anne Kennedy and others believe the gas projects spells disaster. You imagine all cement wells are all going to crumble and fail some of them immediately but all of them within time so we’ll have a honeycomb of crumbling corroding wells and bores and pipes all under the ground. It will destroy it. So to end up with some kind of cross contamination event from our deeper brinewater that we’re taking from the coals and the fresh water in the upper aquifers you need some kind of penetration of two layers of steel and the concrete we follow the New South Wales codes of practice when drilling those wells. It is infinitesimally small chance that that can happen. Then backed into a corner… For almost a decade Anne Kennedy has been rallying unlikely allies to fight the coal seam gas project in a battle which has seen people never before in trouble with the law locking on in protest including her husband Neil. It’s a difficult thing don’t think it hasn’t been an strain on our marriage but we sort of got through it and I think we will but there’s no other life there’s nothing but coal seam gas. There are our kids and the grandkids they come into it but take that away there is nothing in her life except winning this issue. There’s deep division over the future of coal seam gas and not everyone agrees with Anne Kennedy’s position some farmers at the center of the gas project are welcoming CSG onto their land. You learn to live with them that’s no different to having a clump of timber or something like that you’ve got to work around or farm around everything that that Santos has is mainly under the ground and they pipe in their water, pipe in gas pipe in whatever and it’s all out of the way. Really had to farm over the top of it well its at a depth suitable for us to farm over. He’s adamant that agriculture and coal seam gas can coexist and he has three wells and if the project goes ahead he’s happy to have more all my land is available to coal seam gas Santos has been told when you ready look they’re not going to put well to well to well, there’s probably only going to be a well one every kilometer they’re not going to be like every 100 meters. And you’ll still farm? yeah why not? So how many could you have on your land? Depends on how a gas flows underneath the ground but I’d be looking at probably four or five per property off what I’ve been told. Anne Kennedy is unconvinced and worries about the impact on future generations. I just think why would the government get a hard-working conservative very trusting generation of farmers and just push them to this point you can push someone so far… yeah several of them have said there’ll be guns at the gate you know…

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