Coal seam gas exploration licence freeze extended for a year
THE NSW coal seam gas industry has been dealt another blow with the State Government announcing it will continue its freeze on petroleum exploration licence applications for another 12 months.
NSW Resources and Energy Minister Anthony Roberts this morning announced the initial six month freeze, announced on March 26, would now continue until September 26 next year.
The extension was intended to allow the Office of Coal Seam Gas to "complete its comprehensive examination of current PELAs and allow the Government to further assess the application process for petroleum titles", Mr Roberts said in a statement.
The freeze had already resulted in the rejection of 10 exploration licence applications, Mr Roberts said.
"A number of companies have been asked to provide further information around environment, exploration and production reporting, community consultation and work programs," he said.
"Petroleum Assessment Leases (PAL) will be available to companies with existing PELs or those who applied before the freeze.
"The NSW Government is committed to increasing our domestic supply of gas and is working to ensure only safe and sustainable gas supply projects proceed."
Mr Roberts criticized the process for issuing exploration licences under the former Labor Government.
"The former Labor Government handed out 39 Petroleum Exploration Licences (PELs) in a careless and clumsy fashion with little oversight. NSW deserved better," Mr Roberts said.
"The NSW Liberals & Nationals Government has put in place the most comprehensive regulations for the CSG industry in the country.
"These regulations ensure that gas extraction from coal seams is done in a way that is safe and has minimal impacts on the environment and other industries.
"The framework also ensures that companies involved in the NSW gas industry meet the highest standards of technical expertise and financial capability to undertake exploration."