Peter Mitchley, Santos’ General Manager of Energy NSW, has written to the Northern Daily Leader newspaper in Tamworth to explain how Santos works closely with landholders to achieve “win-win” situations.

LIKE in any good relationship, the foundation must be built on trust, communication and a mutual respect. The oil and gas industry, when partnering with agricultural communities and local landholders, is no different.

This year, Santos celebrates its 60-year anniversary and we stand tall with a proud history of safely developing Australia’s abundant natural gas resources in partnership with the agricultural communities that host our activities.

Walking the streets of Narrabri and talking to locals, we are hearing broad support for the proposed Narrabri Gas Project.

Cultivating the right balance between the development of Australia’s natural resources and maintaining a strong agricultural sector is essential to the future growth and prosperity of NSW.

Santos made a stand earlier this year, signing the agreed principles of land access with AGL, NSW Farmers, irrigators and Cotton Australia, that we will only drill on land if the landholder is happy to work with us.

We have always said while we respect the rights of a landholder to say “no”, we believe a landholder should also have the right to say “yes”.

Opponents to coal seam gas development claim that landholders are simply “paid off”– but this is a short-sighted view.

Working with landholders actually opens doors for collaboration and can inject life back into the land  and local communities.

Really great examples of this collaboration exist in Roma in Queensland, where we are working with the local community to inject treated water from coal seams into the Gubberamunda aquifer, which provides the town’s water supplies and has been declining over the past 100 years due to urban, industrial and stock watering.

We are proud of the relationships we have built with Queensland landholders over time.

Santos GLNG has approximately 700 land access agreements in place and independent surveys found that 9-in-10 landholders would welcome us back onto their properties.

We want regional communities that host our activities to see long-term benefits.

In NSW, Santos has committed to a Regional Community Benefit Fund, which will inject around $160 million back into local projects, programs and critical infrastructure within the region.

It’s about finding ways to work together to ensure that both industries can continue to power Australia.