A war of words has broken out between the Lock the Gate Alliance (LtGA) and Santos, after the former claimed the Narrabri Gas Project could be expanded into the Namoi Valley and Liverpool Plains.
LtGA analysis has found if the energy company was to snap up the petroleum exploration licences which weren't extinguished by the state government, then the operation could grow to more than 1.1 million hectares in size.
According to the findings, that would generate more than 10 million tonnes of waste salt, 401 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions and see 448 billion litres of groundwater removed.
However, Santos has slammed the scenario as unrealistic and stated it has no interest in expanding to such an extent.
"Santos is focussed on the Narrabri Gas Project and providing affordable gas for the people of New South Wales, particularly given recent gas price spikes and an independent prediction of a gas shortfall in coming years in New South Wales.
"The PELs are yet to be appraised and so these claims have no basis in fact."
The estimates would see the expansion generate 2553 terajoules of gas per day, which is seven times higher than NSW's usage. It would also give the project a worth of around $42 billion.
It is for those reasons that Santos has claimed the analysis isn't grounded in reality, however LtGA has pointed to the number of gas wells in southern Queensland as an example of how large gas fields can grow.
"Across the border, there are already roughly 10,000 producing CSG wells pockmarking fertile agricultural plains between Dalby and Roma, and that stretch north to the edge of the internationally renowned Carnarvon Gorge National Park," said Lock the Gate spokesperson Georgina Woods.
"The Queensland government's own Gasfields Commission expects the number of wells in this area to more than double by 2050.
"This is the insidious nature of unconventional gas development, once it grabs a foothold in a region, it spreads like an unstoppable plague."
Lock the Gate is not only concerned about the extent of the land Santos could move into, but also the quality of it.
According to its findings, around 15 per cent of NSW's biophysical strategic agricultural land - which has high quality soil - is within the areas where petroleum exploration licences remain active.