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Our natural gas industry has delivered positive results beyond the supply of energy

Posted on 16 December 2020

Source - Des Houghton, Courier Mail

In a drought-scarred landscape in western Queensland, near Roma where I grew up, Trevor Kehl gazes over an inland lake twice the size of Lang Park.

It is not really a lake, but a storage pond holding 300 million litres of water. Kehl gets the water for free, as part of a deal with Senex, a Brisbane-based natural gas explorer and producer helping to provide reliable power as the nation transitions away from coal.

Kehl said a 10-year partnership with Senex had droughtproofed his cattle property.

Senex also installed an irrigation system at no charge, so Kehl can water 100ha of crops like Rhodes grass and barley to feed his 300 Braford breeders. The Braford is a cross between a Hereford bull and a Brahman cow, 55-year-old Kehl explained.

Senex Energy to create 100 jobs in Surat Basin gas fields

The water was drawn to the surface to release the gas. It was a godsend to rural producers, said Kehl.

Like many farmers and graziers who benefit from the gas water, Kehl no longer has to buy feed. His cattle put on more weight and therefore sell at a higher price. Now Kehl and his wife Jasmine will build sheds to store the hay they will make from the excess Rhodes grass, and offer it to the market.

The couple also receive annual compensation payments for the 11 Senex wells and 15 Santos wells on their properties.

Senex is a rising star in Gasland, and this year completed a $400m development in the Surat Basin, 500km west of Brisbane.

In the past two years Senex drilled 80 wells, built processing facilities and pipelines in and around its Roma North and Atlas developments. Roma North supplies the Santos-operated GLNG venture while Atlas is Australia's first dedicated domestic-only acreage.

"Senex continues to work with potential customers to supply natural gas that will support Australia's gas-led recovery and creation of sustainable jobs for Queenslanders," said managing director Ian Davies.

He said Senex now provided gas for domestic and commercial customers including CSR, Orora, Visy Glass, Alinta Energy, CleanCo Queensland and Southern Oil Refining. Davies recently gave the go-ahead for an expansion at Roma North and Atlas that would increase production by 50 per cent.

All the big players in gas are involved directly or indirectly in the beef and farming industry. Since 2014, Origin and Australia Pacific LNG have been supplying high-quality, treated coal-seam gas water to local landholders via its Fairymeadow Rd irrigation pipeline near Miles. The water is used for irrigation and drinking water for livestock.

Locals have been able to use the water to develop new or expanded irrigated cropping and watering for stock, boosting agricultural production.

The water is purified by reverse osmosis at the Condabri and Talinga water treatment plants.

Coal-seam gas has provided a windfall for many in the regions. Gas companies have built roads, airports and dams and given cash grants to sports clubs and schools.

Queensland alone produced 1503 petajoules of gas last year, enough to power 28 million homes for a year.

In the same year the contribution of the Queensland resources sector to the state economy was $82.6bn, according to the Queensland Resources Council.