Farmers unsure on gas exploration

Cane farmer Linsay Altmann is unsure about Arrow Energy's intention of gas exploration on surrounding farms due to begin in December.
Cane farmer Linsay Altmann is unsure about Arrow Energy's intention of gas exploration on surrounding farms due to begin in December.

WHITSUNDAY cane growers and cattle farmers have shown mixed emotions about the possibility of a Queensland energy giant looking for gas on their land after Christmas.

Arrow Energy met with farmers last month to discuss their intentions of exploring for coal seam gas in the area which could potentially affect local cane growers.

Coal seam gas is found under ground and can be used for power consumption if successfully extracted.

To find it, the company surveys the area and drills small holes of 120mm to find the gas which can take several weeks.

If successful they clear a 60m2 space to pump the gas out.

Arrow Energy has already drilled a test hole on Tom Hughes' farm.

He said so far the test exploration had been ok but he was uncertain about what future drilling could do.

Mr Hughes said Arrow Energy had drilled a hole on his cattle land which was about 15ft wide.

He said this size hole could be more intrusive on his cane land.

“That is very much a different story on how it would affect us,” he said.

“The risks are tremendous but at this stage we have had one hole and they [Arrow Energy] have been really good to deal with.”

Mr Hughes said he would wait to see what the company could confirm they were doing before he panicked unnecessarily.

Arrow Energy's vice president of exploration Tony Knight said if areas proved successful there would be truck-mounted rigs drilling about five 20 metre deep wells each year.

“It is a positive development,” he said.

“It could help the community in terms of local jobs, contract suppliers and services.

“We understand the concerns of the community but we intend to engage with the community at least annually.”

Second generation cane farmer Lindsay Altman lives down the road from Mr Hughes but had more concerns about Arrow Energy's intentions and his rights as a land owner.

“I have an emotional attachment to this place,” he said.

“When you are dealing with people who have no attachment, you've got to be a bit on the back foot.”

Mr Altman's main concern was that he, as a farmer, had little to no rights to stop Arrow Energy from exploring his property.

An information pamphlet given to him said under a 2004 mining act, farmers could not object to tenures being granted on private property because “the resources below the ground are the property of the State on behalf of the people of Queensland.”

Mr Altman said this clause bothered him.

“A company with the rubber stamp of the Government can come in and inconvenience you as much as they like,” he said.

“All the people who will [potentially] be affected here use their land as their livelihood.

“Land owners need to be concerned about their rights and their compensation.”

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