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An overview of possible impacts from coal seam gas development in Northern Rivers, New South Wales
by Elfian Schieren, 2012

1. Introduction
2. Energy and coal seam gas development
2.1 Economic viability underpinning coal seam gas development
2.2 Renewable, sustainable energy development
- Solar
- Wind
- Biogas
2.3 Coal seam gas development at a global scale
2.4 Coal seam gas development in Australia
3 Coal seam gas extraction process
- Drilling and dewatering
- Hydraulic Fracturing
- Produced Water
4 Risks to water resources from coal seam gas development
4.4 Ground water use
4.5 Water produced by coal seam gas
4.6 Contamination of Groundwater
5 Other Consequences of coal seam gas development
5.4 Impacts to agricultural production
5.5 Health impacts on humans and animals
5.6 Impacts on greenhouse gas emissions
5.7 Impacts on seismic activity
5.8 Economic impacts
5.9 Cumulative impacts
6 Potential for coal seam gas development in Northern Rivers, New South Wales
6.1 Northern Rivers Region
6.2 Using trade-offs and opportunity costs in evaluating CSG development
6.3 Prospects for development in Northern Rivers region
6.4 Energy development in Northern Rivers region
6.5 Northern Rivers community actions and groups in response to CSG development
7 Discussion
8 Conclusion
9 References

PDF file

Pacific Power
Hazzard - Hansard

Pacific Power History

AJ Lucas Capital Raising 2002

Allan Campbell AJ Lucas Chairman's Address 2002 - Sydney Water

ICAC Sydney Water 2011

State planning minister Tony Kelly

Chris Hartcher


ICAC - Obeid

ICAC - MacDonald

ICAC finds corrupt conduct over Mount Penny

ICAC finds corrupt conduct in relation to Doyles Creek coal exploration licence

ICAC recommends tighter controls to minimise coal mining corruption

ICAC public inquiry concerning mining exploration licences

Hon Edward Obeid MLC Circular Quay retail leases

ICAC public inquiry into alleged corruption involving former ministers and MP in relation to mining exploration licences and other matters

ICAC - Hon Joe Tripodi MP
Minister for Energy and Minister for Ports and Waterways

ICAC report finds no substance to corruption allegations involving Michael McGurk and others

ICAC releases report on its investigation into the conduct of the Hon. J. Richard Face MP

ICAC recommends reforms to Part 3A of the NSW Planning legislation

ICAC reminds community leaders to help report corrupt conduct

ICAC recommends legislative changes to better manage lobbying

ICAC recommends reforms to Part 3A of the NSW Planning legislation

Gasfields Land & Water Commission

NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer

NSW Planning Bill 2013

Mining and Petroleum Legislation Amendment (Public Interest) Bill 2013

Petroleum (Onshore) Amendment Bill 2013

NSW Land & Water Commission

NSW Irrigators

NSW Irrigators
Tour of Colorado

NSW Farmers

AGL Gloucester Milk Experiment
Is Fracking Produced Water Safe in Our Milk?

Gloucester stands up to corporate gas giant AGL

Gloucester Water Studies

MidCoast Water concerned at AGL's haste

2004 gas blow out 300m away in the same wells

Lies, damned lies, statistics
and AGL

AGL’s Gloucester ‘Produced Water’ Irrigation Trial
“A Sham and a Farce!”

CSG companies ignore water quality guidelines in irrigation reports

NoFibs Gloucester Showdown

Fracking near Gloucester homes under AGL’s latest coal seam gas plans

Federal member for Lyne
Dr David Gillespie

AGL buys up Hunter Valley vineyards

AGL versus
Environment Protection Agency 2013

A matter of trust: – letter to Gloucester Advocate

Rob Oakeshott's coal seam gas press releases
2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010
Water Trigger - Gloucester BioRegion - Hunter Valley health

2011 NSW Parliament
Inquiry into Coal Seam Gas

Affected Mid North Coast Councils

Upper Hunter Shire Council

Thomas Davey, Tourism Advancing Gloucester

MidCoast Water

New South Wales Farmers Associations Dairy Committee

Bruce Robertson,
Beef cattle farmer

Steven Robinson, Psychiatrist

Barrington-Gloucester-Stroud Preservation Alliance

Manning Alliance

NSW Planning Bill 2013

Petroleum (Onshore) Amendment Bill 2013

New South Wales Irrigators Council


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An overview of possible impacts from coal seam gas development in Northern Rivers, New South Wales

Integrated Project by Elfian Schieren, 2012

2.4 Coal seam gas development in Australia

Australia is a fragile continent in terms of ecology and economic development with limited water resources and capacity for food production, possibly not yet realised yet due to a relatively small population.

Conservation and sustainable development are considered essential to the future of Australia (Moffatt, 1992).

So far a small population size and large mineral resources has allowed Australia to be a large exporter of goods especially minerals but the future is uncertain for the ecological systems underpinning the economy in Australia as the impacts of export industries and high consumer demand begin to take toll (Moffatt, 1992).

CSG is considered a viable cleaner energy source than coal and global demand from Asia and Europe have turned CSG into a valuable export for Australia.

Rising global energy prices and increasing domestic and overseas electricity demand are major drivers in the expansion of CSG production (Australian Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism, 2011).

Australia has large reserves of coal seam gas within the Surat and Bowen Basins in Queensland, the Clarence-Moreton, Sydney, Gunnedah and Gloucester Basins in NSW and further exploration is expected in other coal basins in Victoria and Western Australia.

Initial attempts to develop CSG in the Bowen Basin in 1976 were unsuccessful due to a lack of understanding of regional geology of targeted coal measures, lack of knowledge on importance of stress regimes and their influence on coal permeability, and inappropriate well completion techniques (Baker and Slater, 2008).

Coal seam gas is viewed as a vital contribution to Australia’s economic growth and energy security, and an efficient energy and exportable fuel source in a carbon conscious market (Australian Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism, 2011).

There are now 1600 commercial production gas wells and a further 1400 exploration wells in Queensland (Jones, 2011).

Figure 3. Australian LNG exports by destination (Jacobs, 2011)

The Gladstone project in Queensland is the world’s first CSG to LNG development that began as a joint venture between Santos, Petronas, Total and Kogas in 2011.

Three more major CSG to LNG projects are underway by Arrow Energy, Origin and ConocoPhillips and the BG Group (British Gas) (Jacobs, 2011).

In 2009/10 coal seam gas (CSG) accounted for 13% of total Australian gas production on the Eastern Gas Market produced in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia(Rutovitz et al, 2011).

Assuming that all CSG produced is used in Gas-to-Liquids (GTL) projects the high demand estimates suggest that CSG will make up around 7% of total LNG exports (Fainstein et al., 2002).

However this figure is unlikely as around half of CSG produced will be used in domestic energy production (Australian Energy Regulator, 2011).

Australian LNG supplies the Asia-Pacific market with most LNG going to Japan until 2005 when the market expanded to China and in 2008 to include India (Figure 3).

Since 2003 the Australian gas exports have increased two and a half fold (Figure 3) (Jacobs, 2011).

Using estimates of rates of consumption, consumption increase and the proven and probable reserves of gas (Conventional = 8,000PJ, CSG = 28,000PJ) indicates that conventional gas will be viable for another 9 years and CSG for another 27 years.

When including projected exports from the Liquefied Natural Gas Project at Gladstone, approximately 1440PJ per year, the lifetime of all Australian produced CSG reserves is reduced to 16 years (Rutovitz et al, 2011) or maximum estimate 20 years (Australian Energy Regulator, 2011).

Queensland has the largest CSG reserves and NSW the second largest (Figure 4).

Most of these reserves have not been extracted yet as the industry is still relatively new and expected to undergo massive expansion in near future (Figure 4) (Jones, 2011).

Companies involved in CSG exploration and production in Australia include Queensland Gas Corporation (QGC) (owned by British Gas), Arrow Energy (jointly owned by PetroChina and Royal Dutch Shell), Metgasco, AGL, Origin, Linc Energy, Red Sky Energy, Santos, Conoco Phillips and Australia Pacific LNG.

PetroChina, co owner of Arrow Energy, is a subsidiary of the China National Petroleum Corporation, one of the world’s largest oil companies (Arrow Energy Pty Ltd, 2012).

Figure 4. Australia’s conventional and coal seam gas reserves (Jones, 2011)

The coal seam gas industry is only around 30 years old, relatively new compared to other mining industries, and there is limited data on the potential impacts to the environment, the economy and society.

There have been several concerns brought to public attention through anecdotal evidence from the United States and other CSG development countries such as Australia.

These concerns centre mostly on the potential impacts to groundwater quality and quantity, human and animal health, greenhouse emissions, earthquakes and long term impacts to the economy.

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