Santos tell gas conference what they really think
But first it was refreshing to see Western Australian Liberal Premier Colin Barnett give the gas and oil executives a slap of reality. Criticising the gas industry for running a disastrous PR campaign (hello Crosby Textor), the Premier told the audience:
“I put it to you, it’s a hard narrative to sell to the community or a government that we are going to increase production of gas and we are going to export it and in the meantime domestic gas supplies might be diminished and the domestic price will go up.
I’m a politician, I’m pretty good at selling a story. I find that one a tough one to sell. You can’t say to people gas production is going up and by the way your supplies are going down and the price is going up.”
Barnett is spot on. The gas industry is trying to sell us a pup and the population isn’t buying. As I wrote in the Daily Telegraph last week, gas exports from the east coast are not in the national interest.
Santos vice-president for eastern Australia also provided some insights into what the gas giant really thinks.
On the contamination of an aquifer with heavy metals such as arsenic, lead and boron, as well as uranium 20x drinking water limits, Mr Baulderstone opined:
“the claims of the green groups were exaggerated, and that the spills involved “minor” spills of “salty water” with no environmental impact. “These are not environmental incidents, they are simply processing issues,”
It’s incredible that Santos dismisses contamination of an aquifer with heavy metals such as uranium as “processing issues”. Does this mean spills and leaks and contamination of water is just part of the process of coal seam gas?
Baulderstone also dismissed the ongoing blockades of drilling in the Pilliga forest where scores of local people including farmers have physically locked themselves onto drilling and other equipment to slow down Santos’ operations and demonstrate community opposition. He said:
“What is happening is that the green groups are preventing the farmers’ rights to say yes,”
Mr Baulderstone must have missed the declaration from the people of Coonamble and the Liverpool Plains that they want to be gasfield free. He must also have missed numerous farmers locking on to drilling equipment over the past few months and the Narrabri Resolution against coal seam gas that was passed by 600 people in Narrabri’s Crossing Theatre in February.
Finally Mr Baulderstone ramps up the scare campaign, declaring:
“It is not a matter of whether this gas will continue; it has to continue otherwise Australia turns into a third-world country. We’ve got to get over this issue.”
Actually Mr Baulderstone, Australia will have a better future if we protect our land and water and transform our energy system to clean renewable energy. We do not need scare campaigns, a disregard for pollution incidents and the dismissal of the very genuine and deeply held concerns of the community.