Gas Energy Project FAQs
There are many stages of information collection before fracturing. Information is obtained from exploration bore hole programs and seismic data surveys. This exploration data is used to develop a model. A production test well is then drilled to collect further information, including permeability testing of targeted seams, review of stratigraphical geological sequences, understanding of beneficial aquifer locations in the sequence, location of faults, and comprehensive geophysical logging. This information is then used to make decisions about how to best approach each coal seam.
No compressor stations are planned for the field other than at the Central Processing Facility.
To reassure landowners and the community that we have no impact on the quality and quantity of the beneficial aquifers, we have groundwater monitoring systems in place on all of our projects.
Yes, and they do co-exist. The location of our CSG wells is flexible. We work with landowners to locate our wells and associated infrastructure to minimise impact to the landowner's current and future land uses. We are mindful of our impact on the neighbours and do everything possible to minimise any disturbance.
No. Previous work has demonstrated that coal seam gas production does not cause measurable subsidence.
The groundwater that was pumped was between 9000 and 10500 EC. All drill cuttings had settled before water was pumped to the depression. Water was contained in the depression and did not overflow to or impact any waterways. Shallow groundwater in the alluvium is more saline (at 19500 EC) so this ponded water did not impact underlying shallow groundwater (it may have in fact improved the quality).
Soils in the area of inundation would have an increased salt content but with irrigation and recent rain, these salts will migrate through the soil profile. Impacts to soils in this water logged area are expected to be temporary.
Samples from the recently constructed monitoring bores are currently in the laboratory for a full range of analysis.
No. The Land and Approvals team at AGL has very detailed and often extensive conversations with landowners to negotiate an 'Access and Compensation agreement' before ANY work occurs. We have never taken a landowner to court and it is not part of our business model to do so.
AGL uses the process of fracturing (aka "fraccing") to stimulate the flow of gas.
Hydraulic fracturing is a well established, tightly regulated technology, which has been used safely for more than 50 years.
It is a process that increases a gas well's productivity by creating a pathway into the coal seam.
The process involves injecting sand and fluids directly into the targeted coal seam. As the rate of injection increases, the pressure of the fluid creates stress in the coal seam until the coal fractures.
The addition of sand ensures that the pathway does not close. The fracture creates a pathway for gas and water to flow out of the coal seam to the wellbore allowing higher rates of gas production.
The fracturing process may also reduce the number of wells required to produce viable gas reserves.
No. AGL is committed to disclosing the chemicals and volumes used in hydraulic fracturing, if used.
Each site will need electricity to run a pump, at least initially, depending on the well's performance. Some wells may not require pumps in the longer term. For wells that require a pump we intend to connect them to the existing grid or new connections (generally underground). Wells that don't need pumps will get power through a solar array. Produced water will be returned to a central fully lined storage pond within the Central Processing Facility for treatment and dispersal through a dedicated water pipeline gathering system, so storages aren't needed at every site.
Yes. The Avon River and potential flood impacts have been considered; however, we do not see this as a significant concern for the project.
Some 400,000 L of groundwater were airlifted during drilling the four water monitoring bores. Some 280,000 L were tankered and removed from site to waste water plants for recycling. Just over 120,000L was pumped to the depression in the lucerne paddock.
If you would like to contact a member of the CCC, submit your interest via the contact us section of this website.
CSG exploration aims to identifyand evaluate a gas resource. The process begins by identifying prospects and leads through geological and geophysical desktop studies. Hydrocarbon accumulations are then identified through drilling core and stratigraphic holes. The potential size of the discovery is then evaluated, as is the gas discovery to see if enough gas will flow to warrant commercial production.
AGL operations follow the following procedures:
Establishment: A compound area is constructed to enable works to take place in a safe, controlled way. Once completed, the area is rehabilitated and reduced to the production footprint.
Production: When producing gas, our well surface locations are typically less than 20 metres square. They will be designed and landscaped to fit in with the surrounding community and environment and will be as unobtrusive as possible.
Maintenance: Inspections are routinely undertaken, but major maintenance is usually needed less than once a year.
Rehabilitation: When the gas has been drained the equipment is removed and the site
As outlined in AGL’s Sustainability Report, AGL’s goal is to connect AGL’s business and the community in ways which make a genuine contribution, engage our people and strengthen our business. Each Upstream Gas project plan includes a community engagement strategy tailored to the local stakeholders for that project.
From the initial hardstand construction through to restoration will take approximately two to three months.
Once the project is developed and operating, approximately 30 – 40 permanent jobs will be required. AGL will also hire a construction workforce during the project's construction phase.
Most of the 400,000 litres generated during the drilling of the monitoring bores was tankered from the site. About 120,000 litres was pumped from the drill site into a low lying depression within the adjacent lucerne paddock. The groundwater salinities varied between 9,000EC and 10,600EC (approximately 5,800 to 6,900 ppm salt). AGL would describe this as “slightly salty” given that seawater is 55,000 EC (approximately 36,000ppm salt).
The transport of heavy loads is regulated by permits from the RTA with input from the police and local councils.
In addition to being highly sympathetic to the land's primary use, AGL will take appropriate measures to minimise all environmental impacts of its operations. The project's Environmental Assessment identified potential impacts and appropriate mitigation measures across a number of issues, including landscape, wildlife habitat and wildlife populations.
As part of our environmental assessment process, each watercourse crossing is examined to determine the best crossing method, either open cut and buried or using trenchless technologies. The best option depends on geology, environmental constraints and permanent water levels.
AGL has taken steps to ensure the incident should not be repeated:
Modifications were made to the degasser, installing a bypass that will accommodate the flowback of the soap foam into the mud tank.
AGL Senior leaders have communicated with all field based employees and contractors, the importance of ensuring AGL activities do not have any visual impact on the community. Work Procedures are being updated to reflect the modified degasser and choke back requirements.
Work Procedures are being updated to limit and specify the volumes of soap to be used when cleaning a well.
Non non-hazardous, non dangerous goods defoamer will be used on all future workovers to ensure foam is not blown from the mud tank.
Throughout the investigation, AGL has cooperated with all government agencies, external stakeholders, and the community.OEH Warning Letter - Aug 2011
Depending on the coal seam, some wells can be drilled horizontally and don't require hydraulic fracturing, some can be drilled vertically and only need sand and water in the hydraulic fracturing operation, some are drilled vertically and require hydraulic fracturing with chemical additives.
Contrary to the cartoons being used in the media, fractures don't 'go crazy' underground.
The wellheads, gas gathering lines, compressor station, and high pressure pipeline are all designed to Australian Standards and good oil and gas practices. Parts and procedures must adhere to a stringent risk assessment study and testing. Safety valves are installed at the wellheads which would automatically isolate the flow of gas if there were a gas leak. Ongoing monitoring and maintenance of all components occurs.
Claims that the CSG industry creates a significant risk of ground subsidence in urban areas due to the extraction of groundwater are incorrect.
AGL understands how this issue may be of concern to the community, however these comments are not supported by the facts.
There has been no evidence of ground subsidence at the Camden Gas project where wells have been drilled and natural gas has been produced for over 10 years.
These findings are consistent with a technical review carried out for AGL on ground subsidence which reported that the potential for subsidence to occur as gas is extracted is almost negligible.
The amount of groundwater extracted by AGL at Camden is negligible - around four mega litres of water a year - which would not even fill two Olympic sized swimming pools.
1P or Proved reserves are those quantities that are estimated with reasonable certainty to be commercially recoverable;
2P or proved plus Probable reserves are those quantities that are estimated with equal certainty to be greater than or less than actual commercially recoverable quantities.
3P or Proved, plus Probable plus possible reserves are those quantities that are estimated with low certainty to be greater than actual commercially recoverable quantities.
2P reserves are the most accepted for reporting purposed in Australia.
The pumping to the lucerne paddock did not cause any change to vegetation because the area where the water ponded was a depression with existing poor lucerne growth because of water logged soils. Lucerne is salt tolerant and there were no nearby trees.
Yes - The bore drilling referred to related to AGL’s ongoing groundwater monitoring program and had nothing to do with drilling for CSG. This was about drilling a bore for water, not for CSG. The two drilling programs – for water monitoring and for CSG exploration – are very different and involve different techniques and machinery.
The groundwater brought to the surface during drilling was disposed of in accordance with our water bore license issued by the NSW Office of Water under the Water Act. This approval allows for disposal of water to land during construction, although AGL was proactive in tankering most of the water from the site.
Although AGL had no reason to suspect that the incident caused harm to the environment or would have any further impacts on the surrounds, AGL acknowledges that this release was unacceptable, recognises that this should never have been allowed to happen, and understands that incidences like this cause concern in the community. As such, AGL:
Reported the incident to:
the Office of Environment & Heritage (OEH);
the Department of Trade & Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services (DTIRIS);
the Sydney Catchment Authority (SCA);
the Department of Planning and Infrastructure (DOPI) (landowner) whose property hosts the well; and
Broughton Anglican College (adjoining neighbour)
Collected soil samples from the deposited area and sent to a NATA accredited laboratory for analysis;
Collected water samples from the mud tank and sent to a NATA accredited laboratory for analysis;
Engaged external environmental consultants URS to undertake a soil investigation study;
Completed an internal investigation into why the foam was discharged;
Discussed the incident with the Resources and Energy Minister Chris Hartcher;
Sent a letter and hosted a Camden Gas Project site visit to MP Jeremy Buckingham, MLC; and
Communicated details of the incident at its operational safety meeting and reemphasised its "Step Back Policy" which gives anyone on an AGL site the authority to stop an activity that he or she deems unsafe or environmentally unacceptable
Reserves are amounts of a gas that are considered tobe commercially producible by a specialised independent company . Once a well achieves a commercial gas flow the reserves can beestimated. The estimators form a view on how much gas is likely to be produced based on the characteristics of the reservoir and the flow, content and composition of the gas.
A wellhead comprises a pump, a separator, associated pipes and safety equipment. It is installed on a gravel hardstand approximately 10m x 10m.
The project team would appreciate feedback on all traffic problems as soon as they occur; Please call the project information line on 02 6558 1166. AGL will attempt to minimise all traffic issues on the local community.
On 17 May 2011, an AGL gas operations workover team conducted routine maintenance at its Sugarloaf 3 well, located near Campbelltown approximately one kilometre away from the Glen Alpine residential area. The team used water, soap and air to clean sand and coal debris out of the path used by gas and water to flow out of the well. This is a routine well maintenance activity which is carried out every two to four years.
During this maintenance activity, the water, soap and air were circulated down the well to clear debris. The water, soap, air and debris was then returned to the surface to be captured by a tank on the surface. An open top tank with a separator (degasser) was located 15 to 20 metres from the well to capture the returns from the well. The degasser's function is to separate the fluid from the air or gas. The fluid is directed into the tank through a pipe which is connected to the wellhead, while the air and gas are directed up to vent. The separator is a safety device to ensure that gas or air is dispersed and vented to atmosphere reducing the safety hazard. Located between the separator and well is a choke manifold with valves that can be adjusted to manage the flow from the well. In this instance, the degasser was not being operated in a proper and efficient manner. The amount of liquid soap mixed with water in this process varies, but is usually about two to three litres of liquid soap mixed with about 1000 litres of water. Water and air are recovered from the well, captured in a tank via a pipe and not are visible to onlookers. In this instance, the workover crew detected a large amount of produced water in the well, and increased the proportion of soap to lighten the water and increased its flow to the surface. This resulted in excessive foaming that created a visible plume of white soapy mist being released from the degasser.
The workover crew believed the soap foam released was harmless, so no immediate action was taken to stop the release of foam from the top of the degasser. White soapy mist shot upward for two to five minutes and dissipated into the air or fell within 40 metres of the well. Immediately following the incident, AGL took several steps to ensure that no further release occurred during the maintenance activities.
AGL has acknowledged that the release of a non-toxic soapy mist at its Camden gas project in May was unacceptable to the community.
After carrying out an investigation in conjunction with the Sydney Catchment Authority, the Department of Trade and Investment, Regional Services and Infrastructure and the Department of Planning and Infrastructure, the OEH has concluded that "there was no significant harm to the surrounding environment from the emission of foamy liquid," but the maintenance equipment "was not being operated in a proper and efficient manner as required by condition 02 of the Environment Protection Licence."
OEH has determined that an appropriate regulatory response to this incident is to issue a formal warning to AGL Upstream Investments. The purpose of this letter is to serve as a warning to your company and its employees that environmental performance and statutory compliance must be continually maintained, the OEH said.
AGL Group General Manager Upstream Gas Mike Moraza said AGL accepted the finding and deeply regretted the incident. "As we have said from the outset, this should never have been allowed to happen," Mr Moraza said.
"AGL takes its commitment to safety and the environment very seriously and this incident was clearly a breach of our own very high standards. While we have always been confident that there was no harm to the environment and we welcome OEH's similar conclusion, we understand that incidents like these can cause concern in the community.
We will heed the warning from the OEH and ensure our employees understand the seriousness of the situation. We have now taken steps to ensure the incident will not be repeated."
In its investigation to determine how the incident happened, AGL found that the soapy mist was released when liquid soap that was being used to clean the well was aerated and not captured in the water storage tank. The work crew were aware that the soap was non-hazardous and non-dangerous and the foam release continued for a period of between three to five minutes.
According to independent analysis performed by ALS Laboratories, the soapy mist caused no impact to the surrounding environment.
Following the incident, AGL voluntarily submitted water and soil samples to the independent laboratory to address any community concerns over the soapy mist release. The analysis of the area surrounding the water storage tank also showed:
The tank's water quality was typical of produced water;
No benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene or xylenes (known as BTEX) were present in soil or water samples; and
Soil salinity and surfactant levels did not increase.
An Environmental Assessment is a formal submission to the Department of Planning. It is the government's way of assessing the project to ensure it meets strict NSW Government standards and that it will not have significant environmental impacts.
An Environmental Assessment is made up of:
A formal description of the project,
An assessment of the likely effects of the project on the physical, social and economic environment,
Identification of measures to be implemented to mitigate impacts,
An evaluation of alternatives and justification for the project,
An assessment of the cumulative impacts of the project.
Coal seam gas is natural gas found in coal seams, formed as a by-product of the conversion of plant material to coal, and primarily consists of methane, which is an odourless, colourless gas. It is used in the same ways conventional gas is used to power hot water systems, heaters and for a wide range of industrial uses.
Seismic surveys are a non-intrusive exploration method used to create a map of the structures beneath the Earth’s surface. The method sends sound waves into the Earth, where the different rock formations then reflect the waves back to the surface. The information is recorded over a period of time measured in seconds.
Geologists and geophysicists can then interpret this data to understand where possible petroleum reserves might be located, to identify areas that are unsuitable for coal seam gas exploration and to gain a regional understanding of the geology of the area.
As part of this project, AGL created a Community Consultative Committee (CCC) to create a forum for exchange of information and ideas. This group will meet four times a year and is an important way in which the community can provide input into the development of the project.
All the gas and water produced by the wells will be carried to the Central Processing Facility via underground pipelines. There, the gas will be treated, dried and compressed for transport via pipeline to Hexham. Water will also be treated on site.
It is expected that a CSG well will be commercially viable for about 15 years. After that, AGL will plug and abandon the well then rehabilitate its site. The surface will look as good as or better than before operations began.
We are planning for a 600 metre grid spacing – one well per 28 hectares (70 acres). This may increase or decrease in certain areas based on environmental constraints such as proximity to houses and streams and geological structure such as faults. Final spacing will depend on the reservoir's performance over time.
The plug and abandon process is to ensure there is no vertical migration of fluids between different water sources in the strata. Here's how it works:
The steel casing is cut off 1.5 metres below ground;
A pipe is lowered to the bottom of the steel and concrete lined hole;
Concrete grout is pumped through the pipe which is slowly lifted as the hole fills;
A metal identification plate is welded to the top of the casing; and
The hole is filled with soil and the area restored to its original contour and seeded to ensure proper plant coverage.
While a compressor does produce noise, all compression equipment will be surrounded in acoustic enclosures that are engineered to meet the standards as determined in the Environmental Assessment.
Following the drilling of each exploration borehole, each location will be partially rehabilitated to stabilise and prevent erosion and dust hazards. Rehabilitation of the exploration boreholes will be finalised in consideration of any further proposed activities at these locations, in consultation with landowners.
The following activities will be employed for the initial rehabilitation of each location:
Each Borehole will be fully grouted with a cement-bentonite mixture as per the DII guidelines;
Plant and equipment will be completely removed from each location;
Drill pits will be temporarily backfilled with stockpiled sub-soils to stabalise erosion and comply with OH&S requirements;
Topsoil will be pushed back over exposed areas of ground (where appropriate) and an appropriate re-seeding of sterile cover crop should be planted to reduce dust issues and site erosion. This should be undertaken in consultation with the property owner/ land manager; and,
The compound fence at each location will remain until the completion of proposed production wells.
At the completion of all activities at each location, full site rehabilitation, as per the EMS will be undertaken. Rehabilitation of both locations and access tracks will aim to return each site to a state as good as or better than when operations began.
The ponded area was allowed to dry out and the depression was tilled and reseeded in early September. The area is now regrown.
What happened with water from the Broke and Spring Mountain exploration activities?
Water generated during drilling programs at Broke and Spring Mountain was all contained in the drill pits and onsite tanks, and then transported offsite to waste water disposal facilities.
Water from the Broke flow testing program was captured in onsite tanks and taken to a wastewater facility in Sydney. At the end of the gas flow testing volumes reduced to less than 630 litres per day, which required about two truckloads per month.
The short term plan for Tiedeman's has been to establish a centre to set up a pilot project as part of our exploration program. This forms part of our requirements as a holder of a Petroleum Exploration Licence.
The long term plan is to connect the existing exploration pilot wells to the gathering system as production wells within Stage 1 field area and to continue primary production activities, mainly beef cattle grazing.
Results from the URS Soil Investigation Report concluded that:
The analytical results indicate that there is no evidence that the release of foam has caused adverse environmental impacts on the immediate vicinity of the release area; and
URS also consider it is unlikely that the release of foam would have carried to SCA's water storage dam located down slope of the release area.
The pipelines will be placed alongside existing infrastructure, boundaries and existing fence lines wherever possible to minimise the impact on current and future land use requirements. The pipelines will be clearly marked with marker posts.
Large inflows of groundwater were encountered during drilling at this site. Most (about 70%) was contained on site and in tanks. After assessing options to complete the bore, it was decided that the least risk to the environment was to complete the drilling quickly and to use the adjacent depression to contain the excess water. The water was contained on a small area of AGL’s property and there was no run off onto other properties or into drains. At no stage was there any threat to waterways.
The lack of available tankers and temporary storage facilities (both on and offsite) was the primary trigger to pump to land. An assessment of options and environmental risks was completed and it was decided that continuing to drill and to complete the monitoring bores program was the least impact option.
If drilling was stopped and water levels allowed to recover, an additional 400,000L (or more of slightly salt water) would have had to be pumped and removed from site the following week using a fleet of trucks (increased noise, traffic and safety issues).
Yes. A thorough community engagement program has been prepared to ensure landholders and the community is kept informed throughout the duration of the project.
The community will be kept informed throughout the project via a number of communications mechanisms, including; community updates, fact sheets, letters, meetings, project website, and through the Community Consultative Committee (CCC).
All the underground gas and water gathering lines from the well field will connect into the CPF.
Yes. The work area will be fully restored back to the land's original contours. To ensure all land is reinstated to the landowners' expectations, a Construction & Restoration Agreement will be developed with each landowner. This will cover issues such as construction access and re-vegetation requirements.
If landowners consent, existing roads & farm tracks will be used where possible. New access tracks and an underground pipeline gathering system will be constructed in locations as negotiated with landowners and to minimise impacts on existing land use.
AGL will use existing power network where possible and generally connect the electricity to the each well site with underground cable.
During construction there will be periods of high activity which will be limited to 7 am 6pm. During operations there will be mainly light vehicle traffic. The speed of all vehicles, including heavy vehicles, will be subject to normal road rules. A traffic management study will be completed and a traffic management plan implemented across the project as per the Environmental Assessment.
A: As outlined in the Environmental Assessment, community members will be notified in advance of any road closures, increased traffic or large truck movements.
High pressure pipeline investigation and construction