CSG to go east of the Condamine River for the first time

Brandon Long
By Brandon Long
Updated March 2 2022 - 12:56am, first published March 1 2022 - 9:00pm
MOVING EAST: An Arrow Energy map showing the company's plans. Image: Supplied

Multinational company Arrow Energy plans to start coal seam gas works east of the Condamine River for the first time next year.

An Arrow Energy spokesperson said it had been engaging with landholders in the area for "some time" as part of phase one of the Surat Gas Project.

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"Construction east of Condamine River is anticipated to start late next year, subject to landholder agreements and approvals," they said in a statement.

The news has made some farmers in the area nervous about their future following accusations that Arrow, owned by Shell and PetroChina, has been drilling directional wells west of the river at Kupunn without the necessary planning approvals or entry notices.

Arrow Energy's future plans for the Darling Downs. Works will start east of the Condamine River in 2023, subject to approvals, and are indicated in green. Image: Supplied

It has also prompted agricultural peak bodies Cotton Australia, Queensland Farmers' Federation, AgForce and Central Downs Irrigators Limited to issue a joint statement saying landholders may want to seek legal advice.

"[On] February 17, a number of agricultural representative organisations were advised by Arrow Energy that it had issued its deviated well agreement to a small number of landholders, and two had signed," they said.

The organisations advised landholders they still had a "small number of significant concerns" with the version they believed was being issued to landholders.

"The primary concerns are around clause 12, which deals with Regional Development Interest Approvals, and may give Arrow the option to use the agreement as an exemption to obtaining a RIDA; and the mediator cost sharing arrangements outlined in clause 30, which has the landholder and Arrow Energy sharing the cost of mediation," they said.

"While Arrow Energy is quite within its rights to issue this document, [our] organisations respectfully suggest that if you are approached by Arrow Energy with this agreement you may wish to obtain independent legal advice ..."

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CONCERNED: West Prairie farmer Geoff Pedler (pictured) and his wife Gayle J are concerned about CSG crossing the Condamine River into their area. Photo: Supplied

Farmers Geoff and Gayle J Pedler have a property on the Dalby-Cecil Plains Road and were first contacted by Arrow about potential deviated well-drilling in the area in December last year.

"As our journey with Arrow has only just seriously started and east of the Condamine River is virgin to CSG country, we can only be guided by the experiences of farmers west/south west of Dalby," Mrs Pedler said.

"It is a disturbing picture of what is to come. This is strategic cropping land."

Mrs Pedler said she was also concerned about an apparent lack of transparency.

"I don't consider hall meetings to be enough. There should have been written information given to all landholders keeping us up to date, giving fact sheets, projections of Arrow's plans and timetable," she said.

"Arrow want to know all about our farm, while we have been told very little about their plans.

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"I feel we need to go to university to understand everything before engaging with Arrow.

"If the government wants farmers to engage, behave and co-exist with an international CSG company, then we need immediate assistance to deal with CSG companies because we feel very isolated."

Dalby area farmers and brothers Russell and Steven Bennie, along with their parents, own and run nine titles in the area, including one neighbouring the Pedlers.

Russell said they too were concerned about the potential impacts of CSG on their properties and were assessing their options.

Arrow said it would continue to engage with landholders as part of the planning process.

"These engagements provide opportunities to discuss conceptual designs, seek their input into field layouts and to work with them to minimise any impacts," the spokesperson said.

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Brandon Long

Brandon Long

Queensland Country Life journalist

Brandon Long is a Queensland Country Life journalist based in Toowoomba.

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