Better community engagement needed by onshore gas

QUEENSLAND Gasfields Commission chairman John Cotter said the journey toward coexistence between the onshore gas industry, landholders and regional communities has not been easy or without its difficulties.

He said better community engagement was needed which could help add value to onshore gas projects across Australia.

Mr Cotter, who was speaking at an industry event in Perth on Monday, said the cost of gas development in Australia was considered high relative to other countries especially when it comes to exploration, well development and project execution.

"As seen in Queensland with the recent rapid growth of the coal seam gas to liquefied natural gas export industry, the cost and timing of these critical phases has depended to a large extent on a level of community support," he said.

"Negotiating access to land and managing the social, environmental and economic impacts of these projects for issues such as groundwater, roads, housing and local services all require significant community engagement to help build understanding and trust.

"Better community engagement can also help lower social risk for projects which has become increasingly important factor for many financiers and investment firms when considering where to direct their dollars."

Mr Cotter said from his experience in Queensland the onshore gas industry was now lifting its game on community engagement.

"I am encouraged by the growing number of explorers and developers who now engage with the commission and who are proactively seeking to build a social licence for their projects," he said.

He said with Queensland's CSG-LNG industry set to expand its well development program over coming decades and the rise in shale gas exploration activity, there is still much more to be done to build and maintain community trust and understanding across the state.