Environmental activities ramped up significantly in the Surat Basin during FY18 in line with Senex’s strategy to deliver the east coast gas development projects.
Western Surat Gas Project
During the 2018 financial year Senex received environmental approval from the state to develop up to 425 development wells and associated infrastructure on the project acreage, and in August 2018 a formal decision by the Minister providing Commonwealth approvals was received. Approval by the state and Commonwealth signifies that Senex has demonstrated that any potentially adverse environmental impacts from the development of the project will be appropriately avoided, managed or mitigated.
As part of the approvals process, Senex submitted significant baseline data, and engaged with community and key stakeholders on the potential environmental impacts of the project. Interested and potentially affected parties were invited to comment, with these comments submitted and reviewed as part of Senex’s overall application. Senex received a small number of comments, many of them positive, as part of our state and Commonwealth applications, and we will continue to work closely with all stakeholders as the project progresses to encourage understanding of our plans. Our approach and progress with key stakeholders is further described on page 34 of this Sustainability Review.
During the period, Senex drilled, completed and connected a 30-well campaign (the Phase 2 work program). All activities were undertaken under the framework of a robust environmental management system, with processes to identify potential risks, and the implementation of appropriate controls. Reinstatement and rehabilitation works are being undertaken following the completion of these work activities, and the environmental management system will continue to undergo continual refinement ahead of future development.
Senex’s environment team conducted 15 proactive environmental inspections and audits in the project acreage during the period, with no formal notices issued by the Queensland regulator. A minor release of sediment into water during the year did not result in any material environmental harm but was reported to the Department of Environment and Science (DES). Senex has reviewed the incident, captured the learnings and implemented mitigating actions as a result.
Following the successful award of the Atlas project, Senex prepared and secured initial Environmental Authority from the Queensland Government in March 2018. This authority enables early site works and the grant of the Petroleum Lease over the block.
Site studies have commenced to assess the project area. These baseline studies will inform subsequent environmental impact assessments that will be required to support approval applications for the full field development activities. These applications are planned to be submitted to both state and Commonwealth environmental regulators in the first half of FY19.