SANTOS will close its Gunnedah shopfront in September, following an announcement earlier this year it would not be drilling for coal seam gas on the Liverpool Plains.
A spokesperson for the gas giant said the company had decided to close its Gunnedah office to focus its presence in the area of the Narrabri Gas Project.
“Santos has a shopfront and an operations centre in Narrabri where the majority of our staff that work on the Narrabri Gas Project are based,” the spokesperson said.
“The two staff that are based in Gunnedah have been offered the opportunity to work from Narrabri. We are pleased that one staff member will continue in a regional role based out of Narrabri.”
Liverpool Plains farmer David Quince said it was a “welcome relief to see the company gone” from Gunnedah.
“I can’t tell you how pleased I am,” Mr Quince said.
“While Gunnedah has always had a lot of support for the coal mining industry, most people don’t want coal seam gas mining here, because they’ve seen the boom and bust cycle it’s created in Queensland towns.”
In May, Santos CEO Kevin Gallagher said the company had no plans to carry out any exploration activity on the Liverpool Plains in the Petroleum Exploration Licence (PEL) 1 area.
“We have no plans to drill wells in the Liverpool Plains,” Mr Gallagher said.
“The Narrabri Gas Project is contained. Our plans are simply not to drill in the Liverpool Plains.
“The fact that the permit area we have covers the Liverpool Plains is just something we have to live with. We can’t cut it off, it’s there, but our plans are to the north of that.”
Lock the Gate spokeswoman Georgia Woods said the indication that the company might withdraw completely from the plains was “very welcome”.
“They originally had seven gasfields planned for the North West, so if we can keep chipping away, step by step we’re getting closer to a gasfield free region,” she said.
“What we really need is for them to not just close their office, but to relinquish the exploration title to protect that farm land and the aquifers supporting it.”