Climate activists target Santos’ NT expansion plans

January 25, 2022
Protest outside a Santos supply base in Darwin. Photo: Rebecca Parker

A protest outside oil and gas giant Santos’ supply base on January 22 demanded no new onshore or offshore gas. The gathering was attended by Larrakia Traditional Owners and members from Protect Country Alliance, Environment Centre Northern Territory, Protect Our Water Palmerston among others.

Along with Origin Energy and Empire Energy, Santos has become a key target for anti-gas campaign groups this year.

Santos has a slew of new gas projects it wants to start in the NT, including fracking in the Beetaloo Basin as well as developing the offshore Barossa gas field.

“The Territory has enormous potential to be a hub for renewable energy, having some of the best solar resources in the country,” energy campaigner at the Environment Centre NT Jason Fowler told the protest. “We should be investing in long-term sustainable jobs in these industries instead of pouring public money into the pockets of fossil fuel companies.”

Fowler said Santos is “literally scraping the bottom of the barrel” trying to develop the dirtiest gas field in Australia at Barossa. “As the International Energy Agency stated, to avoid climate catastrophe we can have no new gas projects — starting today.”

Santos’ plans as submitted to the NT Environment Protection Authority, show that two-thirds of the carbon dioxide from the gas field would be vented directly into the atmosphere before the remaining third is piped to Darwin.

Tiwi Islanders oppose the Barossa gas project as the proposed pipeline would cross their sea country. They also say they were not adequately consulted.

Santos CEO Kevin Gallagher made headlines late last year when he accompanied Prime Minister Scott Morrison to the United Nations Climate Change conference. His controversial plans for unproven carbon capture and storage technology are being used to greenwash the emissions of the gas projects in the NT, including at Barossa.

Santos is proposing to transport the carbon from Darwin LNG to the Bayu-Undan field in Timor Leste, in what is described by Timorese group La’o Hamutuk as an act of “carbon colonialism”.

Santos is also trying to fast-track its fracking plans onshore, but faces hurdles as its social license is dragged through the mud.

Santos recently agreed to pay landholders $400,000 after failing to adequately consult on two fracking wells in the Beetaloo Basin. The company is also being sued by the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR) for its “greenwashing”. Santos claims it provides clean energy natural gas and that it has a net zero emissions by 2040 plan.

Most recently, Santos’ sponsorship of Tennis Australia was dropped following a campaign against the company’s sports-washing tactics.

“The community protests at Santos’ supply base are in solidarity with those pastoralists and Traditional Owners resisting the company’s fracking plans in the NT and further afield,” said Dan Robins from Protect Country Alliance.

“As the recent high profile court case showed, Santos is an arrogant operator, which tries to run roughshod over the rights of locals so it can foist its polluting onshore fracking projects on communities who want nothing to do with the company.”

The protest at Santos’ supply base in Darwin was the first of many, Robins said. “The company has no social licence. It can expect ongoing resistance from Traditional Owners and the NT community.”

[For more information about the campaign against gas in the NT register for the free live webinar on February 1 here.]


Photo: Rebecca Parker

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