Camden Gas Project: Environment

On 31 August 2014, at approximately 7.05pm a pressure safety valve on the gas/water separator at SF05 activated and natural gas was released to the atmosphere from the pressure safety valve vent line.

The coal seam gas wells within the Camden Gas Project had been shut off (that is, not producing natural gas), to allow the Rosalind Park Gas Plant to undergo maintenance on Friday August 29. Over the weekend the coal seam gas wells were brought back online which allowed the gas to flow again. Pressure at the Spring Farm well built up and the pressure safety valve activated, as it was designed to, as a precautionary measure to relieve the pressure. As pressure was released, this created a loud hissing noise and released a quantity of natural gas into the air.

Fire and Rescue NSW, Jemena and AGL attended the site and fire crews’ inspections showed no detectable gas levels on monitoring equipment, or any need to evacuate residents.

AGL has cooperated with NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), the Department of Planning & Environment and the Office of Coal Seam Gas in relation to this event. AGL was requested by the EPA to provide investigation report and this has been completed.

A briefing was provided to the Camden Community Consultative Committee on 24 September to provide information on this incident to the community.

Spring Farm 05: Pressure Safety Valve Incident Report (PDF)

Update: 1 December 2014

The following actions have been completed and have been shared with the EPA:

  • Installation of new alarms in the Rosalind Park Gas Plant control room to provide an early warning of high pressure events at well sites;
  • Revision and implementation of an updated pre-start checklist procedure for production wells;
  • Review and update of the Rosalind Park Gas Plant standard operating procedures and maintenance plans.

Update: 6 March 2015

The EPA has concluded its investigation of the 31 August 2014 event at Spring Farm and issued AGL with a penalty infringement notice in the amount of $15,000 for a breach of a licence condition which requires all plant and equipment be maintained in a proper and efficient condition.

AGL accepts the results of the investigation and has taken corrective actions to prevent similar occurrences, including the installation of new alarms and the review, update and implementation of operating procedures and maintenance plans. AGL also notes that the incident itself did not cause any harm to human health or the environment.

For AGL's Fugitive Monitoring Program reports, visit Camden Gas Project Documents.

For Environment Health Impact Assessment reports from 2013, visit Camden Gas Project Documents.

As part of the Stage 2 expansion proposal, AGL commissioned Mine Subsidence Engineering Consultants Pty Ltd (MSEC), to investigate the potential for the proposed coal seam gas extraction to result in surface subsidence.

The AGL Camden Subsidence Report (PDF) concluded that "the proposed extraction of coal seam methane at Camden will not create large voids in the strata, nor leave remnant pillars. The strata within the coal measures are not unconsolidated and in fact are hard and well consolidated rocks. The conditions for significant subsidence to occur are not therefore present and it is concluded that the potential for subsidence to occur as the gas is extracted is almost negligible."

AGL is currently in production and decommissioning and rehabilitation at the Camden Gas Project. No new wells have been drilled as part of the Project since September 2012. As AGL progressively decommissions and rehabilitates wells toward ceasing production in 2023, we will not drill new wells.

Our typical operations include:

  • Production: When producing gas, our well surface locations are typically around six by four metres, or roughly the size of a four wheel drive. They have been designed and landscaped to fit in with the surrounding community and environment and be as unobtrusive as possible.
  • Maintenance: Inspections are routinely undertaken, but major maintenance is usually needed less than once a year.
  • Decommissioning and rehabilitation: When the gas has been drained the equipment is removed and the site decommissioned and rehabilitated.

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.
  • Specialist studies have been undertaken to address a range of environmental issues associated with the proposed works, including an assessment of noise, hazard and risk.

AGL's Environmental Assessment files.

For AGL’s Environment Protection Licence, Incident Notification Protocol and Community Notification Protocol, visit Camden Gas Project Documents

Annual Environmental Performance Reports (AEPRs) and Independent Audits are part of the NSW Government's requirements under the various approvals, leases and licences for the Camden Gas Project. Copies of the AEPRs and Independent Audits are available for download in the document tab. Please note that these reports are provided for information purposes only.

For quarterly and monthly air monitoring data, visit Monitoring Data or find them filed on Camden Gas Project Documents

Water management

Protecting and understanding local water resources is a critical part of the sustainable development of AGL's coal seam gas operations. You can view all groundwater monitoring reports and water studies in our document library.

Groundwater investigation and monitoring program

The Camden Gas Project groundwater investigation and monitoring program was developed by AGL and environmental specialists, Parsons Brinckerhoff, to help the community understand what impacts, if any, there might be on groundwater resources as a result of exploration for and production of natural gas.

The monitoring program involves dedicated monitoring bores that monitor the groundwater in the shallow aquifers within the Camden Gas Project and at a control site away from the Project.

The completed and planned work investigates connectivity between the shallow groundwater aquifers and water bearing zones in the coal seams. Two key findings of the work to date indicate negligible or no connectivity: the shallow groundwater is chemically different from the deeper coal seam groundwater, and flow within the groundwater systems appears to be mostly lateral, rather than vertical.

Additional information

The hydrogeological summary of groundwater system (PDF) in the region, includes a review of data collected from the Camden Gas Project.

Produced water is natural groundwater that is removed from the coal seams (which are approximately 700 metres below the ground) in order to allow the natural gas to flow. AGL analyses produced water quality from a selection of operating gas wells each quarter, as described in the Groundwater Management Plan. The monitoring results are available in the document library and on Monitoring Data.

In 2011 and 2012, AGL’s water quality monitoring program found the produced water from some gas wells had significantly lower levels of salt than expected (at a level similar to rainwater or river water) and also a different ratio of the type of salts than is typical for coal seam gas wells at the Camden Gas Project. AGL wanted to understand why.

After conducting internal investigations, AGL engaged Parsons Brinckerhoff to investigate the lower salinity of produced water coming from some gas wells and to provide reasons why this was happening. Following expert chemical and isotope analysis, Parsons Brinckerhoff found that the low salinity water does come from the coal seam but it has been physically and chemically changed due to changes in pressure and temperature. The results from this investigation are very important in continuing to build on our comprehensive understanding of groundwater, produced water and coal seam gas operations for the Camden Gas Project. Download the 2013 Parsons Brinckerhoff report (PDF) and summary (PDF).

As part of its coal seam gas exploration and production programs in NSW and QLD, AGL Upstream Gas commissioned a desktop study on the occurrence of naturally occurring hydrocarbons in groundwater from Permian coal measures and associated sedimentary rocks. The report, prepared by CSIRO, Earth Science and Resource Engineering - Petroleum and Geothermal Research Portfolio Group, concluded that most of the detected total petroleum hydrocarbons, PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) and BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene and xylenes) compounds appear to be naturally occurring.

Similar to a drinking straw, a monitoring bore lets us find out what is happening with groundwater. We drill a hole into the ground and install a sealed pipe that has tiny holes at the bottom to let groundwater enter the pipe. The groundwater rises up the pipe to a water level that reflects the water pressure in that aquifer where the bore is installed.

We often put several monitoring bores next to each other, installed to various depths, to monitor groundwater in different aquifers or groundwater systems. We can then measure the water level and water quality in each of the bores to see how they relate to each other and how they change over time.