The Gloucester Gas Project (the Project) is a coal seam gas (CSG) project located in Petroleum Exploration Licence (PEL) 285, which fully encompasses the Gloucester Geological Basin in New South Wales. The project is wholly owned and operated by AGL.
Learn more about the Gloucester Gas Project.
In February 2011, the independent NSW Planning Assessment Commission (PAC) approved the Gloucester Gas Project subject to AGL's meeting 92 stringent conditions in relation to the construction and operation of the project.
The Gloucester Gas Project includes:
The Commonwealth Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water Population and Communities approved Stage 1 of the Gloucester Gas Project under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act) in February 2013.
The EPBC Act approval contains 36 conditions relating to protecting matters of national environmental significance, such as the Giant Barred Frog, Green and Golden Bell Frog and Small Flower Grevillea, as well as for the protection of groundwater. The EPBC Act approval is valid until 2062. View the media release for more information.
The proposed Project provides a means of commercially developing the Gas resources of the Gloucester Basin. The project includes:
The Project will benefit the community, the Hunter region and the State. Specifically, the Project represents an important development of New South Wales resources because it will:
The majority of the natural gas required to meet the needs of families living in, and businesses operating in, New South Wales is supplied from interstate. Only around 5 percent of the demand is met from gas produced in New South Wales. With forecasts predicting that the State will face a shortage by 2017, additional gas resources are needed to maintain a reliable and affordable gas supply.
The Gloucester Gas Project is an important source of future supply of natural gas for New South Wales. It could meet the gas demands of more than one million Australian homes. The first gas from Gloucester is expected to be available from mid-2016.
More about Coal Seam Gas can be found here.
In late 2008, AGL purchased PEL 285 from Lucas Energy Pty Limited and Molopo Australia Limited. In 1992, the Licence had been granted to Pacific Power under the Petroleum (Onshore) Act, 1991. Pacific Power operated the permit until Lucas (as operator) and Molopo purchased the licence in 2002. AGL has since been sole operator of the Project, which as of June 2011 has Proved and Probable (2P) reserves of 669 PJ. The region has a rich exploration history, with active searching for coal deposits occurring since the 1970s.
Key gas targets in the Gloucester Basin are the coals from the Upper Permian Gloucester Coal Measures. In 2009, AGL conducted a core hole drilling program. High gas contents have been confirmed in all 18 core holes that have been drilled.
In the region's wells, AGL has found hydraulic fracturing to be a valuable method for increasing gas flow.
Hydraulic fracturing is a tightly regulated operation that has been used safely for more than 50 years to increase the productivity of a gas well by improving the flow of gas.
The process involves pumping a fluid charged with proppants such as sand down a well at high pressure to force passage ways into the coal seam. The proppants keep the passage ways open once the pressure is released to improve the efficiency of the well.
Fraccing fluid is typically more than 99% water and sand with a very small amount of highly diluted additives included.
The use of the so-called BTEX chemicals (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes) is banned in Queensland and NSW.
Most of the additives used are commonly found in domestic products such as toothpaste, baked goods, ice cream, food additives, detergents and soap. It is important to understand that these additives are used in such tiny doses, and in such diluted forms, that AGL believes the use of these additives pose minimal or no risk to the environment or to groundwater resources. This is validated by AGL's groundwater programs.
Typically these coal seams are hundreds of metres deep and physically separated from surface groundwater by impermeable layers of rock. The CSG production process ensures that the beneficial upper aquifers are isolated from the coal seams far below the surface.
More can be learned about AGL's Gloucester hydraulic fracturing here.
In 2009, 2010, and 2012, AGL conducted seismic exploration. Seismic is an exploration method used to create a map of the structures beneath the Earth's surface. The method sends seismic waves, similar to very low frequency sound waves into the Earth, where the different rock formations then reflect the waves back to the surface, and they are recorded over a period of seconds.
All the Review of Environmental Factors (REFs) submitted and approvals obtained for exploration activities can be found here.
AGL will use the Waukivory Pilot at Forbesdale to assess the natural gas potential of the area and to gather additional information about the surrounding hydrogeology. The independent expert who examined AGL’s surface water and groundwater studies, Dr Rick Evans, noted that the Waukivory flow testing program should proceed as soon as possible to build knowledge of the connectivity of the different groundwater systems across the area.
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