Farm access vital to coal seam gas industry

THE GasFields Commission has called on Queensland's major onshore gas companies currently shedding jobs to carefully consider positions critical to landholder engagement and ultimately the long term success of these $70 billion gas infrastructure projects.

It follows recent reports of significant downsizing in the number of staff and contractors as the onshore gas industry in the Surat Basin transitions from construction to production and is impacted by the current low oil price environment.

The issue was discussed at the commission's board meeting held in Toowoomba recently.

The board resolved to request an update on the status of land access staff with each of Queensland's major onshore gas companies.

Commission chairman John Cotter said while he recognised the companies were reducing staff across all parts of their projects, some positions such as the land access officers were pivotal because they were the key interface between the company and the rural landholder.

"As one landholder has described these land access staff - 'they are the oil that lubricates the rough surfaces between the landholder and the gas company'," he said.

"Rural landholders with existing or prospective gas infrastructure on their properties have highlighted time and again the important role played by these land access officers in understanding their rural business and also communicating their needs and issues up through the gas company."

Mr Cotter said it was also imperative to have long-term appointed land access officers to ensure good long-term relationships with landholders.

"These land access officers provide a dedicated and consistent point of contact for these rural landholders seven days a week," he said.

"When relationships between landholders and companies break down, they can often lead to delays, disruption and increased costs which in turn can impact on the project's overall bottom line."

Mr Cotter said he would request an update on land access staff when he next met with each of the major onshore gas companies.

He said he would ask them to consider the vital and ongoing role played by these land access officers in the bigger picture of these projects.

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