THE race is on for coal seam gas companies to drill on new land made available in the Surat Basin by the Queensland Government.
Queensland Resources Council CEO and former Groom MP Ian Macfarlane said he was aware of nearly half a dozen companies who want to get their hands on nearly 400sq km of new land, announced this week by Minister Dr Anthony Lynham.
"I think the demand for the pilot project has been so strong that it indicates setting land aside for domestic production and that's going to attract a lot of interest," he said.
"There will be four or five companies looking at the first parcel and I'd hope there are as many for the second parcel.
"I think having customers already signed before you start spending money is a good place to start."
The land, which has not been made publicly available, was revealed by Dr Lynham at the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association's national conference in Perth on Monday.
Any gas produced would only be used for the domestic market in response to growing concerns about the east coast supply.
Mr Macfarlane said while reducing transport costs by regulating pipelines would improve the availability of gas to Eastern Australia from Northern Territory and Western Australia, he said the best long-term solution was more production from NSW and Victoria.
"The unanimous view is NSW and Victoria have got to lift their restrictions - NSW is the cause of this problem and now they're relying on Queensland to do the heavy lifting," he said.
"Queensland, SA and WA are killing themselves doing that."