DESPITE protesters stalling its gas pipeline works at Tara in the Surat Basin, energy explorer QGC says only a minor delay was caused.

The latest setback follows a stop work on its major pipeline between the Surat Basin Gas fields and Gladstone due to environmental breaches.

Plans for soil and species management are yet to be approved on the project, which is part of large scale LNG infrastructure plan and a $15 billion investment by QGC’s owner BG Group in the UK.

QGC senior vice president Jim Knudsen says the company was made aware on March 16 that a lack of approved plans might breach environmental conditions.

The company, owned by BG Group in the UK, has ordered its contractor MCJV to stop work pending a compliance review.

QGC doesn’t expect a material impact on project schedule and the suspended pipeline work is unrelated to the connection of five wells to an underground pipeline system about 24 kilometers north of Tara.

A QGC spokesperson has downplayed the protests, describing it as minor compared to the level of support the company has received in the area.

A group of protesters formed a human barricade at the Tara Estate, south of Chinchilla to stop the company building a 16 kilometre pipeline to funnel coal seam gas from five wells already in the estate to the nearby Kenya gas processing plant.

Protesters say they are concerned about the effects the project will have on their health, the environment, groundwater stores and land values.

A QGC Spokesperson says nearly half of the proposed work will be done on land it owns and the 14 landholders directly affected by the work had agreed to compensation packages for disturbance to their land.

Protest organiser Michael Bretherick says the police presence was ‘overkill’ citing just as many officers as protesters.

Police said they had brought in extra police to deal with protesters at Tara and Chinchilla.

QGC says work has since started on the site.

“We said three weeks ago that we were starting works in the area and nothing has changed for us – the protesters caused a brief delay, but work has already resumed,” says the spokesperson.

“I don’t know how many protesters were at the site or even what they were protesting about – our position is that the works we’re doing is all under Queensland legislation.

“There is currently a matter before the courts, but I can’t comment on that further – I have heard that some protesters were arrested but the cost and schedule of the works hasn’t been affected by the protest.”

QGC acknowledges the negative publicity that has arisen from the protest, but says it has gained support from landholders in the area.

“We've reached agreements with the landholders to access the land we’re clearing - those agreements include compensations and the landholders with whom we have agreements to do work are not the protesters,” says the spokesperson.

“We’ve received a lot of support for the project - we've seen the protests but you have to contrast that with the 2000 landholders we have on our tenements – we already have 600 agreements of those landholders and we’re in talks with another 1000 of them.

“Compare this to the small protest we’re talking about in Tara that involves 14 landholders, all of which we’ve reached an agreement with and I think this is a good measure of support for us.”

QGC is working on a landmass of 35,000 square kilometres throughout the Surat Basin.

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