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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

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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

6 Potential for coal seam gas development in Northern Rivers, New South Wales

6.4 Energy development in Northern Rivers region

Clean renewable energy and other sustainable initiatives have immense support in the Northern Rivers. Lismore and Byron areas have the highest uptake of rooftop solar in rural NSW (Regional Development Australia, 2012).

Regional Development Australia Northern Rivers recommended that the government give priority for development of renewable energy sources in the region and implement a Sustainable Energy Action Plan on the North Coast (Regional Development Australia, 2012).

Sustain Northern Rivers group is a collaborative platform for climate change action, created in 2008, which is based on fostering networks, supporting local groups and projects and centralising resources (Sustain Northern Rivers, 2010).

The Northern Rivers Regional Strategy has a large scale plan for the ecological sustainability of the region developed with the partnership of Northern Development Taskforce, Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Councils, the Northern Rivers Regional Development Board and Planning NSW (NSW Government Department of Planning, 2006).

Coal seam gas development in the Northern Rivers has arisen due to the fact that the region overlies the Clarence-Moreton Basin that stretches from Southeast Queensland to Northeast NSW.

The main source of coal seam gas within the Basin is found in the Walloon Coal Measures that extend into the Surat Basin of Southwest Queensland (Arrow Energy, 2011).

There are currently three companies with mineral licenses in the region (Figure 8).

Arrow Energy which was recently taken over by Shell and PetroChina in 2009 is undertaking CSG exploration in the Clarence-Moreton Basin (Arrow Energy, 2011). Red Sky Energy, in partnership with ERM Power, is exploring and developing gas acreage held by Clarence Moreton Resources Pty Ltd (Proactiveinvestors Australia, 2012).

Metgasco represents the third company involved in CSG exploration within the Clarence Moreton Basin (Metgasco, no date). Metgasco is developing the 145km Lions Way Pipeline from Western Downs region to Newcastle (Figure 9) part of a pipe system connecting Wullumbilla to NewCastle for transportation of CSG to Gladstone to produce and export LNG to China (Metgasco, 2011).

Metgasco has also been approved for the development of the Richmond Valley Power Station in 2010 (Metgasco, 2010).

The coal seam gas industry is being considered by gas companies as a major economic benefit to communities through the creation of employment, regional investment and flow on benefits.

With regard to CSG development in the Northern Rivers region Metgasco managing director Peter Henderson states: “The effects of these newly created jobs and the significant expenditure will flow through to all parts of the Northern Rivers community.

The new jobs created will mean that these people will buy more food, fuel, furniture and electronic goods from local businesses.

The whole community will benefit from the growth of our operations” (Henderson, P. (2012) Metgasco).

On the other hand lack of strategy and prioritisation around coal seam gas development concern NSW farmers who question why this industry is being allowed to potentially threaten food production, the environment and the community when CSG reserves in NSW represent only 0.7% of all the profitably extractable gas reserves in Australia (Thomas, 2011).

Figure 8. Coal seam gas exploration licenses and existing well sites in Northern Rivers, Northeast NSW (Proactiveinvestors, 2012).

Figure 9. Lions Way pipeline route from Wullumbilla to Gladstone, Newcastle (The Pipeliner, 2010).


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