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New South Wales government could reopen CBM industry

World Coal,

Mike Baird, premier of New South Wales (NSW), Australia, has signalled his intent to reopen the coalbed methane (CBM) industry as part of a new gas policy.

Reopening the CBM industry – known as the coal seam gas industry in Australia – could ease pressure on the domestic gas market and potentially lower household bills.

The NSW government’s new gas policy is expected to outline plans to import large amounts of gas from the Northern Territory, while also providing a response to Chief Scientist Mary O’Kane’s report on CBM.

O’Kane’s report gave the green light to CBM activities and said industry risks could be managed with careful engineering and management.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the government’s gas strategy is expected to rubberstamp most – if not all – of O’Kane’s 16 recommendations, including plans for a tougher regulatory regime.

It is also expected to say CBM exploration licenses will start being approved once again, following an announcement in September that it would not accept any more CBM exploration applications for 12 months – effectively extending a six-month moratorium issued previously.

Mike Baird has made a clear statement in support of CBM, which he sees as vital to developing a diversified gas market in NSW.

“Do we want coal seam gas? Absolutely we do,” Baird said. “Do we want coal seam gas in balance with ensuring there’s not damage to our water aquifers? That’s absolutely where we stand.”

By allowing the CBM industry in NSW to develop, household bills – which rose 17% across the state in July – could be reduced. The state currently produces about 5% of its own gas, relying heavily on interstate gas imports.

Edited from various sources by Sam Dodson

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