17 June 2016

Our response to 60 Minutes

Every day we work in partnership with farmers.

The partnership between farming families and gas creates value for everyone for generations to come.

As part of our work on the Australia Pacific LNG Project, we have committed over $400M to the first 100 landowners we are working with – and there will be more to come as further agreements are made.

There is a populist narrative that this issue is one of conflict - the reality is we have good relationships with almost all of our landowners.

Our preference is to develop this resource on good terms – in agreement based on an informed, transparent relationship built over time.

Origin has been working side by side with local communities to develop coal seam gas resources for more than two decades. We have signed more than 900 agreements involving 700 properties with over 400 landholders.

Each and every one of these landowners is still using their land for farming and grazing.

Our approach to development is about working together. We change designs to move wells and pipelines. We adjust timings, pause and reschedule where necessary. We talk with and learn from our landowner partners.

Our willingness to do this gives us confidence we can find a way to work with everyone, and find value for both parties.

The community does not have to choose between farming and coal seam gas – both are possible and happening today. We will continue to partner with rural families for generations to come. 

David Baldwin
CEO, Integrated Gas
Origin 


Why did it take Origin more than 500 odd business days to decommission the disputed water bores on Chinta?

We both wanted to fix the bores on Chinta – under Qld laws we had reached agreement, signed and paid a material amount of compensation to decommission them.

Subsequent negotiations around accessing the property took considerably longer than we both wanted.

What was the state of those bores in Origin’s view?

The bores contained water, were old and hadn’t been used for decades. This has been acknowledged publicly by George’s family in testimony to the Senate’s Select Committee on Unconventional Gas Mining earlier this year.

What levels of methane gas were coming from those bores. The Bender’s claim one was ‘explosive.’

Natural gas has been present in water bores in this area since records began.

The Bender’s bores were drilled into the coal seams where both water and gas is found.

That one bore was lifting up water shortly before we were able to come onto the property and decommission it reflected the need to fix it - which we did late last year.

Why continue with pressure on Mr Bender to install wells on parts of Mr Bender’s properties which he’d made clear he didn’t want?

Of the hundreds of landowners we partner with, many now support CSG development after coming from a skeptical starting point - through educating themselves on everything. We wanted to offer the Benders a similar opportunity - particularly given that coexistence was proving itself across the region.

Farming and coal seam gas does not need to be a choice – many landowners have both and are growing their farms as a result.

Origin pressured, according to the family, George Bender into selling a property that was not for sale.

Any land we have purchased has been on mutually agreeable terms. We had the same approach with the Benders.

Or at least why Origin persisted with sale negotiations after Mr Bender made it clear there was no sale

If the Benders weren't interested in a sale, we would not have continued with negotiations.

Does Origin concede pressure from its agents contributed to Mr Bender’s suicide?

No. Any suicide is a tragedy and complex – and we were deeply saddened when we heard the news.

We are confident that we acted appropriately in all interactions with George Bender and his family

Has Coal Seam Gas activity increased the levels of methane coming from faults under the river?

Gas seeps are a naturally occurring phenomenon around the world. The underlying geology around the Condamine River is naturally fractured and rich in shallow natural gas resources.

CSG doesn’t cause the faults or fractures that naturally occur in this area. This view is supported by the CSIRO who are also studying presence of shallow gas in the region.

There are several scenarios that could be contributing to the seeps including the underlying geology, natural events such as drought and flood cycles and human activity which include thousands of water bores and future CSG operations. This was outlined in an independent technical report released in 2014.

Since then, further investigation has focused on the possible geological mechanisms and pathways which may explain the phenomenon.

Origin is currently undertaking work, which, if successful, may intercept and reduce the amount flowing towards the river.

How many caps has Origin placed on the Condamine river bed and why?

Around 18 months ago, as part of ongoing studies on behalf of the industry, we installed a monitoring system at the most vigorous seep location comprising four lightweight hoods on the river bed that capture the gas and safely vent it on the riverbank.

This provides a method for continuous measurement of seep flux rates and also reduces the volume of seeps in the river.


About Origin Energy

Origin (ASX: ORG) is the leading Australian integrated energy company with market leading positions in energy retailing (approximately 4.2 million customer accounts), power generation (approximately 6,000 MW of capacity owned and contracted) and natural gas production (1,093 PJ of 2P reserves and annual production of 82 PJe).

Through Australia Pacific LNG, its incorporated joint venture with ConocoPhillips and Sinopec, Origin is developing Australia’s biggest CSG to LNG project based on the country’s largest 2P CSG reserves base.