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Origin signs up Lockyer

Origin Energy (ASX: ORG) has signed up former Brisbane, Queensland and Australian rugby league legend, Darren Lockyer to spruik the benefits of coal seam gas (CSG).

Mr Lockyer grew up in Roma, the birthplace of Queensland’s oil and gas industry, and has gone back there to shoot a series of pro-CSG videos for Origin Energy. Last year, Mr Lockyer signed a three-year contract to be the safety ambassador for the $23 billion Australian Pacific LNG project (APLNG) under construction at Gladstone.

Mr Lockyer told Fairfax Media on Tuesday that his opinion on CSG was more on the negative side, because after reading something constantly, you start to form an opinion. He says that from his football experience he knew the media can often focus on the negatives and not look at the positives.

He added that now he had gone on the journey and spoken to a lot of the experts and landowners, he was a lot more positive about it, and was very comfortable with the hydraulic fracture technology used to extract coal seam gas.

Mr Lockyer said he was prepared to cop some flack amid the heated CSG debate, “I guess when you have a public profile, if you play professional sport, there’s always a section that’s going to be critical … there’s nothing there for me to hide, I’m out there presenting the facts.”

Companies using “fraccing” (as it is known in the industry) to fracture rocks deep beneath the earth to extract both gas and oil have come under pressure from the community because of concerns over possible health risks, as well as the potential to contaminate water supplies.

Several companies are using the technique to explore and produce both gas and oil around Australia, including Origin Energy, Senex Energy (ASX: SXY), Beach Energy (ASX: BPT) and Santos Limited (ASX: STO).

Foolish takeaway

Origin only expects to have to fracture around 30-40% of the coal seam gas wells in the APLNG Project, probably much less than most people would have expected. If this move clears up some of the misconceptions around fraccing and coal seam gas, then so much the better – the cynics will likely see it as a pure publicity stunt.

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