Santos has lashed out at the continuing uncertainty over the regulatory framework for coal seam gas in NSW, saying it threatened the state’s energy security. 

‘‘30 per cent of the gas flow into NSW will stop in 2015,’’ said Santos’ eastern Australia vice president James Baulderstone, when supplies from South Australia's Cooper Basin and Queensland’s coal seam gas fields would be diverted to feed the three huge export LNG plants under construction in Gladstone.  

Santos has almost double AGL’s coal seam gas reserves in NSW, with 1500 petajoules of gas in the Gunnedah Basin, but last year shelved a proposal by the former Eastern Star Gas to drill 1100 wells there, including in the Pilliga State Forest. 

Santos was preparing a new application - proposing about 200 wells around Narrabri, in the first phase - when the Premier’s new coal seam gas regulatory arrangements were announced on February 19. 

Santos’ exploration acreage is in rural areas and is not materially affected by the new 2 kilometre buffer zone around towns, suburbs and areas earmarked for future residential growth. 

But Mr Baulderstone said the new licensing regime, to be administered by the Environment Protection Authority, was ‘‘unclear to us...all we’ve got is a press release’’.

‘‘I’m getting very concerned about the approval processes,’’ Mr Baulderstone said. ‘‘I need to start drilling holes again. We’ve done nothing (in NSW) for the last two years. It’s come to a complete halt.’’

Areas that weren’t quarantined from CSG ‘‘need to be developed, and they need to be developed by 2015-16,’’ he said.