NSW coal seam gas policies trigger summit stalemate

A LANDMARK energy summit in New South Wales could be at a stalemate even before it opens today with the state and federal governments at loggerheads over NSW coal seam gas policy.

The state-organised Energy Security Summit will bring together industry, academics, Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane and NSW Resources Minister Chris Hartcher to discuss the state's "energy future".

Concerns are growing that by 2016, Sydney could be the grips of a gas crisis, forcing up prices because the NSW gas industry remains undeveloped.

For Mr Hartcher, everything is on the table - that is, everything other than easing the state's coal seam gas laws.

These prohibit exploration or development within 2km of residential areas.

"The NSW Government's restrictions regarding exclusion zones and its tough protections are non-negotiable," he said on Wednesday.

Mr Hartcher said it was up to the gas industry to "work within" those restrictions.

Mr Macfarlane said the summit was "an opportunity to be frank about the problems facing NSW gas supply".

"While the need to secure a gas supply for NSW post-2016 is an urgent one, it's not too late to address it," he said.

Meanwhile, Santos is likely to spruik its aspirations of developing Pilliga Forest's CSG reserves near Narrabri in the state's north-west, a project capable of supplying a quarter of the state's gas in its first stage.

Mr Hartcher said he would use the summit to help NSW focus on the "big picture" to ensure the state's energy supplies are secure.

He is to deliver closing remarks at the Sydney Convention Centre Event.



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