Metgasco CEO Peter Henderson
Metgasco CEO Peter Henderson

Region could be 'pockmarked'

AS COMMUNITIES struggle to grasp the environmental implications of the fast-growing coal seam gas industry, a stoush has erupted between The Greens and Metgasco over the number of wells planned for the region.

The Greens NSW mining spokesperson Jeremy Buckingham claimed yesterday that at least 500 wells would "pockmark" the Northern Rivers if Metgasco plans to export gas to Queensland or overseas go ahead.

Mr Buckingham claimed that Mr Henderson reluctantly revealed the number following intense questioning at the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into Coal Seam Gas last week.

"If Metgasco are serious about earning a social licence from the community they should be honest and up-front and say how many gas wells they are planning," Mr Buckingham said.

"If a pipeline hooks up the Northern Rivers to Queensland's liquid natural gas (LNG) export market, there will be a large demand for gas - 500 wells may be just the start.

"It's not good enough for this information to be kept secret.

"Knowledge of the number of wells planned is crucial for the community to make an informed decision about the future of the Northern Rivers."

Metgasco chief executive Peter Henderson said yesterday that commercial concerns made him reluctant to specify the number of wells required, and also because once a figure is quoted "it becomes gospel".

"The number of wells we need overall or at any one time will be influenced by the size of the gas markets we are supplying, the productivity of the wells themselves and the wells' ability to produce gas from large areas," he said.

"At the inquiry last week I agreed that 500 wells was not impossible, but also made the point that we will minimise the impact of the wells by (horizontally) drilling as many as possible from the one site, keeping the footprint to less than 2% of the land."

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