Lock the Gate Alliance president Drew Hutton dismisses a new Clean Water Alliance between coal seam gas companies as a publicity stunt.
Lock the Gate Alliance president Drew Hutton dismisses a new Clean Water Alliance between coal seam gas companies as a publicity stunt.

Gas giants unite for Clean Water

LOCK The Gate Alliance president and veteran Greens campaigner Drew Hutton has laughed off the latest move by Australia’s major coal seam gas companies, labelling it as “just another attempt to pull the wool over the public’s eyes”.

News emerged from the CSG 2011 Summit held in Brisbane from May 30 to June 1, that British Gas (QGC), Conoco (Origin), Santos (Gladstone LNG), Halliburton and several other CSG players had put aside their commercial rivalry and united to form the Clean Water Alliance.

The new group claimed to have secured Australia’s water future and was said to be on the lookout to acquire established water companies with significant market share and branding that have a “clean water” reputation.

“Given how widespread our industry is going to be, with tens of thousands of gas wells reaching deep into the Artesian Basin, we can see that in the future there are vast profits to be made by selling clean water,” CWA representative David Stevens said.

“People can’t live without gas nor can they live without water and the Clean Water Alliance will be there when crystal clear water is needed and can’t just be pumped from the ground like in the past.”

The CWA said it would support local communities by offering water deliveries at reasonable rates in quantities ranging from personal (600ml) through to bulk (50,000 + litres) at prices expected to send shockwaves through the industry.

But Mr Hutton said the forming of the CWA was the latest “laughable exercise in spin” from a desperate industry fighting a losing battle for positive public opinion.

“Sadly it doesn’t surprise me, this is their latest attempt to try and get rid of their water in a way that is designed to win some hearts - it’s PR and spin,” Mr Hutton said.

He said the CSG Summit proved to be a waste of time because the major companies “yet again avoided the big questions”.

“They can’t offer any assurance that they are not going to damage underground water reserves,” he said.

“We would like to see an undertaking that they are not going to do any work on floodplains, near settled areas or on areas where there is known or suspected interactivity between water aquifers.

“The tables are slowly turning and more people are coming around. Every day I hear of more and more landholders locking the gate.

“They are desperate. People are becoming worried about the effects of their work and they are now just trying to fool some poor people - it is typical of the CSG industry.”

A recent report by the Queensland Government found that most CSG wells were operating within strict safety standards. Released last week, the results found that 98% of the 2719 wells tested showed no reportable leaks.

“Only five of the 2719 well sites inspected throughout Queensland had leaks of a recognised flammable risk,” Minister for Employment, Skills and Mining Stirling Hinchliffe said. Mr Hinchliffe said much of the gas extracted in the CSG process would be converted to LNG before being exported to key Asian markets. The industry is expected to bring 18,000 direct and indirect jobs to Queensland.

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