Miner: no idea on number of wells

THE Northern Rivers will be dotted with thousands of coal seam gas wells if the experience of Chinchilla, Queensland, is followed, NSW Greens spokesman on Mining Jeremy Buckingham said yesterday.

Metgasco, which holds extensive exploration licences on the North Coast and plans on increasing exploration activity in the Grafton area in the near future, could not quantify how many wells it was planning on building to supply its proposed 145km Lions Road Pipline.

Metgasco managing director Peter Henderson said the company had State Government approval for 40 production wells to supply a gas-fired power station in Casino "over the life of the development".

But, he said, estimating the total number of wells required for the Lions Way Pipeline was "premature".

"There is a process we will need to go through when we have market negotiations more advanced and wish to seek production licences," Mr Henderson said.

"At that stage we will know how big the market is and will have more data on the productivity and characteristics (the amount of gas available from each per day) of our wells.

"Gas operations are not land intensive and use between 1 to 2% of available land.

"Our experience to date shows that the use of such a small amount of land allows for the successful co-existence of agriculture and our operations."

The company's website says a detailed assessment of any potential environmental impacts from the construction and operation of the Lions Way pipeline was under way.

Mr Buckingham said there were 4000 coal seam gas wells in Chinchilla and it was in the interests of mining companies to pipe gas to overseas markets where prices were higher than locally.

"It's been difficult to get anyone to put a figure on the number of operational wells needed, the industry is coy about that," he said.

"But if they are interested in exporting, most modelling and analysis says that they will need thousands of wells in order to be viable."

He said it was industry practice to win local communities over with the promise of local jobs and power supply before selling the bulk of mined gas to overseas markets.

Meanwhile, Mr Henderson said the company had abandoned the 'Orara'` exploration well which was drilled in late 2008 near Waterview Heights.



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