A plan to open two gas basins in Central Queensland could create about 5,500 new jobs by 2030, but environmentalists warn the venture may impact farm water supplies.

Key points:

  • The federal government has invested $15.7 million for gas well trials in the North Bowen and Galilee basins, while $10 million in state and federal funding will pay for a pipeline feasibility study
  • The opening up of the basins could create 5,500 jobs by 2030 and boost the economy by $2 billion a year
  • But environmentalists say expanding the gas industry could damage groundwater and impact farmers 

Federal Resources Minister Keith Pitt said the government was committing $20.7 million to the first stage of the North Bowen and Galilee Basin Strategic Plan.

“That’s why this money is being committed.

“So $15.7m will go towards gas well trials and $5m will go towards a feasibility study for a gas pipeline from the North Bowen Basin across to the east coast gas market.”

The Queensland government is also providing $5m for the feasibility study, which could lead to the pipeline running to Mackay.

About nine petajoules, or nine quadrillion joules, of coal-seam gas is produced from the North Bowen and Galilee basins per year, but there are an estimated 17,661 petajoules in place — enough to supply to entire east coast gas market for a decade.

Mr Pitt said opening up the basins could potentially create 5,500 jobs by 2030 and create an extra $2 billion worth of economic activity every year.

“The gas field trials, the well trials … we will be making the data from those trials freely available to the public and to the industry,” he said.

A coal seam gas well silhouetted against a golden sky

The federal government estimates there are 17,661 petajouls of gas located in the North Bowen and Galilee basins. (

ABC News


Region needs ‘reliable’ energy

Dawson MP George Christensen said a gas pipeline to the region could potentially lower power prices.

“We don’t have a significant pipeline of gas to this region,” he said.

“It means more business activity in Paget, more local jobs.”

Coal seam gas well

A study will assess the feasibility of running a gas pipeline from the North Bowen Basin to the east coast market. (

AAP: Dan Peled


Greater Whitsunday Alliance chief executive Kylie Porter said a rise in biofuels and biofood processing in the region required a more efficient energy source.

“When you talk about economic powerhouses across Australia, there was a real deficit in this region in terms of access to gas and that actually is going to hold us back in the future,” she said.

No ‘handout’ needed

But not everyone is supportive of the plan to open up the two basins.

Lock the Gate Alliance national coordinator Carmel Flint said taxpayer funding for the project would benefit the shareholders of large gas companies.

A map showing the location of two gas basins

The North Bowen and Galilee basins are located west of Mackay, in central Queensland. (

Supplied: Australian Government


“I’m sure the North Queensland tourism industry would love some big grants right now to support their businesses which have done it tough during COVID, but instead it’s gas companies who are raking in the cash to explore for gas to export overseas,” Ms Flint said.

Peter McCallum from the Mackay Conservation Group said the group was concerned about the impacts future gas developments could have on water sources.

“We’re really worried about the enormous declines in the water tables that have occurred elsewhere where gas fields have been developed,” he said.

“We don’t want to see that happen in central Queensland where a lot of farms are dependent on groundwater for their survival.

Spring Gully

Environmentalists say the opening up of the basins could have a negative impact on groundwater in areas close to wells. (

Supplied: Origin Energy


Mr McCallum said he believed the government needed to address climate change and opening up the basins would go against that.

“In some ways, gas is more of a problem than coal, because it releases a lot of methane into the atmosphere, unintentionally, during the mining process,” he said.

“We’ll be keeping a very close eye on all of these projects.”

Posted , updated 

New gas plan for Central Queensland could create 5,500 jobs
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