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

Contents
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
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Pacific Power
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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

Obeid

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
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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

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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

3 Coal seam gas extraction process

Functionally coal seam gas is the same as natural gas which is methane, formed from the decay of organic matter in anaerobic (low oxygen) environments.

Coal seam gas differs from conventional gas in extraction method and geology.

Conventional gas is generally found in sandstone or limestone in pockets or reservoirs from which the gas flows easily once tapped (Rutovitz et al, 2011). Coal seam gas is found within subterranean coal seams of hard coal such as anthracite to soft lignite or bituminous coals.

Coal seams are less permeable and require more invasive processes to extract the methane (Zupanick, 2001).

The general processes include drilling and dewatering initially and hydraulic fracturing to increase permeability when these processes are not adequate to create gas flow.

- Drilling and dewatering

Gas wells are drilled using a system of enclosed fire retardant fluids to reduce friction and keep the drill from setting the coal seam or other geological layers on fire (Spehe, 1999).

The methane is held tightly in the coal seam in a saturated environment and requires a dewatering process before the gas can be released (Rutovitz et al, 2011).

The coal seam is a highly saturated environment and gas wells often produce water or other liquids such as oil or hydrates.

These liquids have the potential to inhibit gas flow from the well and have to be removed via pumping mechanisms (Evans, 1980).

The water removed from the coal seam is called “produced water” and can contain potentially hazardous compounds such as salts and chemicals so has to be treated and disposed of accordingly (Rutovitz et al, 2011).

- Hydraulic Fracturing

If the dewatering of the coal seam is unable to release the gas it is necessary to fracture the seam to increase permeability.

Hydraulic fracturing or fraccing involves pumping large volumes of fraccing fluid at high pressure into the coal seam to create a fracturing that can extend to around 400m into the coal seam (Puri et al, 1991).

Fraccing fluid is often but not always water and contains proppants and chemicals to increase fracturing capacity.

Gel like fluids are considered more effective at transporting the proppants and gel compounds are added to a water base to thicken it.

Most fraccing fluids contain a mixture of bactericides, pH control and anti-solidifying chemicals (NTN, 2011).

Very small amounts of the chemical are used in the fluids but huge volumes of fluid are required to complete the fracturing process which can result in large amounts of chemicals needing to be disposed of (Rutovitz et al, 2011).

This method is not always desirable particularly when the coal bed is thin or near a submerged aquifer as the fractures can permit transfer of water either into or out of the well bore (Puri et al, 1991).

- Produced Water

The process of dewatering and fraccing brings water to the surface that contains chemical characteristics drilling and fraccing fluids but also of the formation and hydrocarbon being extracted.

This water, known as produced water, contains large amounts of salts, oils and grease, various inorganic and organic compounds or chemical additives and naturally occurring radioactive material.

It is estimated that over 71 billion barrels (1 barrel = 158.76 L) of produced water is generated annually around the globe from oil and gas production which then needs to be treated and disposed of or utilised for other purposes (Veil et al., 2004).

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