Santos has advanced plans to construct a water treatment facility which will allow produced water from its natural gas operations in and around the Pilliga to be treated and reused for purposes like irrigation.

Later this month Santos will submit an application to the NSW Government seeking approval to begin work on Leewood Phase 2. The document provides details of proposed plans, assesses any potential impacts and details how these impacts will be mitigated.

Santos will employ up to 50 people throughout the construction period which is expected to take about a year.

Phase 1 of work at the site was completed in October 2014, which included construction of two 300 megalitre ponds to store water and brine from natural gas operations in and around the Pilliga.

Leewood Phase 2 will allow this stored water to be treated and reused to irrigate a section of the Leewood property and for operational activities including construction and dust suppression. The submission will also consider opportunities for beneficial reuse of the treated water for third party irrigation or fire-fighting purposes.

The water treatment facility will include a reverse osmosis plant and brine concentrator as well as associated pipework to transfer water and brine around the facility and a treated water irrigation system. The water will be treated via reverse osmosis, the technology used in major salt water desalination plants throughout the world.

Santos estimates on average approximately 1 megalitre of treated water will be generated each day during the exploration and appraisal stage.

Water will be tested prior to use to ensure it is of a suitable quality for these activities and it complies with NSW and Australian guidelines.

The remaining brine will be stored in the double-lined ponds at Leewood for future processing and disposal.

Santos General Manager of Energy NSW Peter Mitchley said managing the water produced during the extraction of natural gas from coal seams is a critical part of our work in the Narrabri area.

“This is an important next step for our operations and will demonstrate the additional benefits we can bring in terms of available water,” Mr Mitchley said.

“It will also generate employment opportunities and support the local Narrabri community.

“The facilities have been designed and located to minimise environmental, cultural heritage and community impacts.”

Assessment of the proposed water treatment facility will be through a Review of Environmental Factors process (REF) under Part 5 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979. The Office of Coal Seam Gas is the determining authority for the proposed activity.

The REF document will be available, after it is lodged, on the NSW Division of Resources and Energy website (click here to access and also on the environmental approvals page of Santos’ NSW website.

Santos Narrabri Gas Project could supply up to half of the state’s natural gas needs. It will create up to 1200 jobs during construction and 200 ongoing positions.

Santos is currently focussed on the Environmental Impact Statement for the project which is an important step to ensure our development meets the highest environmental standards.