Feb 04, 2020People & Industry

A Queensland Farmer’s Partnership with Natural Gas Proves Beneficial

Australia Pacific LNG’s innovative Fairymeadow Road Irrigation Pipeline project is turning treated natural gas water into a valuable commodity and helping landholders in Miles develop new farming opportunities. Condamine feedlotter and cropping farmer Simon Drury tells his story. 

“My name is Simon Drury and along with my wife Kylie, and our four sons, own and operate a 5500 acre property called “Condabri” located on the Condamine River between the towns of Miles and Condamine on Queensland’s Western Darling Downs.

We have a family-run business, comprising a 5000-head feedlot and 500 acres of irrigated crops. We supply grain-fed beef to the domestic and international markets under the Condabri Beef label as well as others.

Over the past 20 years “Condabri” has been developed into a highly intensive farming enterprise and now co-exists successfully with the highly intensive natural gas industry which is extracting natural gas from beneath our land and exporting it throughout the world.

It has been a most successful partnership which has benefitted all involved including my family, our neighbours, and the surrounding districts and, of course, Origin Energy.

Our four sons, along with other young people in our area, now have a future here without being forced to chase jobs hundreds of kilometres away.

This is a benefit shared by a number of families in our area as well as many more where the landowners have embraced the natural gas industry.

Since we were first approached by Origin in 2007 to establish a small pilot project of four test wells aimed at proving the viability of the gas field, we have met and dealt with many changes as we got used to having our land used for a dual purpose and by another company other than ourselves.

Today, we have 50 wells operating on our land.

In the beginning, some people queried my wisdom of embracing natural gas on our property but now many questions are raised by landholders enquiring how natural gas could benefit them. I can’t over emphasise the good that has come about as a result of the natural gas industry in our region.

When Origin first came to us with a plan to establish 50 wells and all the accompanying infrastructure a couple years after the test wells were drilled, we were able to have input into where most of them would be sited.

We put them behind shade lines, and in the corners of paddocks and in previously unproductive areas and in out of way positions.

We found Origin was willing to be flexible in this regard. Another illustration of Origin’s flexibility came after the 2010-2011 floods which caused damage to a lot of the infrastructure, including our family home, on our farm. We decided to build a new house on higher land.

There was a well planned on the site we had chosen and after consultation with Origin, it was relocated away from our new home. When the first wells were drilled, it would take drilling contractors four days to complete the task.

Now the process is much faster and much more streamlined and wells can be drilled in a 24 hour period using the new minimal disturbance rigs. The wells on our property are operated on electricity instead of diesel powered gensets therefore causing no noise pollution.

Water taken from the coal seams is a by-product of natural gas. It has benefited irrigators, local towns and industries in our region greatly to have access to good quality water since the wells were installed. Unfortunately much of what is portrayed in the media regarding the opposition to natural gas is not entirely accurate.

We have experienced no detrimental effects to our land or our business. Upon completion of the development, our property has been restored and improved to a high standard. We now have passive income which adds to our business and peace of mind.

Having natural gas on our properties has not only helped us but hundreds of landholders in the Surat Basin. The process of working out a fair conduct and compensation agreement was challenging in the beginning, however, with goodwill this was negotiated to both parties satisfaction.

It is fascinating to see how our gas is being converted and exported to energy hungry countries throughout the world.”