Narrabri Gas Project Environmental Impact Statement

A detailed Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Narrabri Gas Project was prepared and submitted to the Government in February 2017. The EIS was assessed by the NSW Government on behalf of the Commonwealth under the assessment bilateral agreement. In September 2020, the Independent Planning Commission granted consent for the development application for the Narrabri Gas Project in accordance with Part 4 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (the Act).

The Federal Government approved the project in November 2020, with the conditions of approval consistent with those set by the NSW Independent Planning Commission.

The EIS is the major assessment document prepared for the project. It is required to identify and address potential impacts of the project. It includes extensive studies with modelling and data on areas including water, flora and fauna, soil, noise, air quality, cultural heritage and social impacts.

Click here to view the full EIS

Narrabri Gas Project Environmental Assessment Process

The Narrabri Gas Project is classified as State Significant Development and is subject to the assessment and approval requirements of Division 4.1 of Part 4 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (EP&A Act). On 30 September 2020, the NSW Independent Planning Commission (IPC) approved the Narrabri Gas Project with the Commission concluding that the Project is in the public interest and that any negative impacts can be effectively mitigated with strict conditions.

Click here to view the conditions of Development Consent SSD-6456.

The project was also declared by the Commonwealth Government to be a controlled action due to its potential to impact the following matters protected by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act):

  • listed threatened species and ecological communities
  • a water resource, in relation to coal seam gas development and large coal mining development
  • Commonwealth land.

View preliminary assessment documents for the Project:

Preliminary Environmental Assessment.

EPBC Act referral.

The Narrabri Gas Project has been granted EPBC Approval (EPBC 2014/7376) from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

EPBC 2014/7376 Approval

Statement of Reasons for the Approval

The approved Chemical Risk Assessment Framework is available on Santos.com Public Notices

EIS requirements

The EIS comprehensively addresses both the requirements of the Secretary of the NSW Department of Planning and Environment (SEARs) and the requirements of the Commonwealth under the EPBC Act (supplementary SEARs).

To view the SEARs and supplementary SEARs for the project, click here

Site verification

State Environmental Planning Policy (Mining, Petroleum and Extractive Industries) 2007 establishes a gateway process for the assessment of State significant mining and petroleum projects located on biophysical strategic agricultural land (BSAL).

Although the Narrabri Gas Project area did not contain BSAL as mapped by the NSW Government, Santos was required to carry out a BSAL assessment. This included extensive soil surveys within the agricultural part of the Project Area, in accordance with the NSW Government’s Interim Protocol for Site Verification and Mapping of Biophysical Strategic Agricultural Land. This assessment confirmed that no BSAL occurs within the Project Area and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage issued a site verification certificate to that effect on 1 December 2015. This certificate can be viewed here.

Environment Protection Licensing

‘Petroleum exploration, assessment and production’ is a scheduled activity listed in Schedule 1 of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act). Under section 48 of the POEO Act, all scheduled activities are required to hold an environment protection licence.

EPL 20350 covering PEL 238, PAL 2 and PPL3 in the area around Narrabri.

Exploration and Appraisal Activity Approvals

Exploration and appraisal activities have been underway in NSW for a number of years. Details on the environmental assessment documents related to exploration and appraisal activities and supporting operations in the Narrabri, Gunnedah and Upper Hunter areas are listed below.

Petroleum Exploration Licence (PEL) 238

PEL 238 Grant Instrument
PEL 238 Instrument of Variation – January 2023
PEL 238 Instrument of Variation – August 2023

Petroleum Assessment Lease (PAL) 2

PAL 2 Grant Instrument
PAL 2 Instrument of Variation – December 2022
PAL 2 Instrument of Variation – August 2023

Petroleum Production Licence (PPL) 3

PPL 3 Grant Instrument
PPL 3 Instrument of Variation

Bibblewindi and Dewhurst Pilot projects

In July 2014, the NSW Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) granted consent for the Bibblewindi Gas Exploration Expansion and the Dewhurst Gas Exploration Pilot Expansion, following submission of environmental impact statements for each of these projects. Development consent SSD 5934 for the Bibblewindi Gas Exploration Expansion and SSD 6038 for the Dewhurst Gas Exploration Pilot Expansion were surrendered on 1 August 2023.

Review of Environmental Factors

Petroleum exploration and appraisal activities are subject to the assessment and approval requirements of Part 5 of the EP&A Act. In most cases, a detailed REF assessing the potential impacts of the activity, and identifying measures to mitigate those impacts, must be submitted to the NSW Government for assessment.

REFs for Santos’ exploration and appraisal activities can be viewed here.

EPBC Referral of Exploration and Appraisal Program

In 2013, Santos referred its exploration and appraisal program activities in the Narrabri area to the Commonwealth Government for assessment under the EPBC Act. The Commonwealth Minister for the Environment determined that the program was not a controlled action if undertaken in a particular manner. Documents relating to the referral can be viewed here.

Supporting infrastructure

Santos has obtained development consent from the Narrabri Shire Council for a number of camp facilities and its Narrabri Operations Centre. Click here to view the statements of environmental effects for this infrastructure.

In 2008, the previous operator of the Narrabri operations, Eastern Star Gas, obtained approval to construct the Narrabri Coal Seam Gas Utilisation Project, including the construction of a gas pipeline from Bibblewindi and expansion of the existing power station at Wilga Park. Regulatory approvals are in place for the operation and expansion of the Wilga Park Power Station up to a maximum capacity of 40 megawatts. Click here to view relevant approval documentation.

Narrabri Gas Project Management Plans

The management plans listed below have been prepared for Phase 1 (current phase) comprises ongoing exploration and appraisal activities in the project area, including:

  • Seismic surveys;
  • Core and chip holes;
  • Construction and operation of pilot wells (up to 25 wells on up to 25 well pads across the project area); and
  • Pilot well ancillary infrastructure, including access tracks, gas and water gathering lines, water balance tanks, safety flaring infrastructure, utilities and services, and environmental monitoring equipment including groundwater monitoring bores

The management plans satisfy the relevant requirements of SSD-6456, Santos’ Environmental Protection Licences and PEL238, PAL2 and PPL3.

Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Management Plan Approval

Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Management Plan

Biodiversity Management Plan Approval

Biodiversity Management Plan

Environmental Management Strategy Approval

Environmental Management Strategy

Field Development Plan Approval

Field Development Plan

Field Development Protocol Approval

Field Development Protocol

Fire Management Plan Approval

Fire Management Plan

Historic Heritage Management Plan Approval

Historic Heritage Management Plan

Noise Management Plan Approval

Noise Management Plan

Produced Salt Beneficial Reuse and Disposal Study Approval

Produced Salt Beneficial Reuse and Disposal Study

Rehabilitation Management Plan Approval

Rehabilitation Management Plan

Waste Management Plan Approval

Waste Management Plan

Water Management Plan Approval

Water Management Plan

Erosion and Sediment Control Plan

Site Water Balance Approval

Site Water Balance

Surface Water Management Plan

Groundwater Management Plan

Produced Water Management Plan Approval

Produced Water Management Plan

Irrigation Management Plan

Dust Suppression Protocol

Pollution Incident Response Management Plan

Approved plans are also available through the Post Approval tab of the Narrabri Gas Project page on the NSW Planning Portal at https://pp.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/major-projects/projects/narrabri-gas.

Annual Community Consultation Reports

In accordance with the requirements of the Exploration code of practice: Community Consultation (Oct 2022) the below Annual Community Consultation Reports for each NSW tenement, as required, have been complied and lodged with Department of Regional NSW – Mining, Exploration and Geoscience.

2022 PEL 238 Annual Community Consultation Report
2023 PEL 238 Annual Community Consultation Report
2022 PEL 12 Annual Community Consultation Report
2023 PEL 12 Annual Community Consultation Report
2023 PEL 1 Annual Community Consultation Report
2024 PEL 1 Annual Community Consultation Report

Monitoring Results

Water Portal Resources Library


Narrabri Gas Project Annual Review – 2022
Narrabri Gas Project Independent Environmental Audit 2023
Narrabri Gas Project Independent Environmental Audit 2023 – Response to Recommendations
Narrabri Gas Project Independent Environmental Audit 2023 – Approval Letter
Narrabri Gas Project EPBC Compliance Report

Water Licenses

WAL 36546
WAL 43553
WAL 43548
WAL 15819
WAL 15847

Complaints & Incidents

This can be viewed here.