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Managing BTEX from coal seam water

700_225 How we manage BTEX

The discovery of BTEX (Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene, Xylenes) compounds, in groundwater coming from the deep coal seams near Gloucester, has prompted a high level of community interest. The BTEX has been found, by the NSW Environment Protection Authority and the Division of Resources and Energy, to be naturally occurring. The water, currently being pumped from AGL’s Waukivory wells, is being transported to a licensed liquid waste treatment facility north of Brisbane.

To address interest in the presence and management of BTEX in water from our gas wells we’ve compiled a range of reports, studies and other factual information to provide the community with a better understanding of the issue and to demonstrate AGL’s commitment to managing BTEX at the highest standards.


Management of flowback water at Waukivory

Management of flowback water at Waukivory

Click to enlarge.

Timeline of events

27 January 2015
2 February 2015
  • The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and the Department of Resources and Energy (DRE) grant AGL permission to pump flowback water from its four Waukivory wells for several days so that sampling can be carried out.
13 February 2015
  • The EPA conducts analysis of Waukivory flowback water samples. Waukivory operations remain suspended.
8 April 2015
  • The NSW Office of Coal Seam Gas permits AGL to undertake operations to decrease the gas pressure in the four suspended Waukivory wells, subject to strict controls. The work involves up to two weeks of flaring the gas.
19 May 2015
1 June 2015
  • AGL recommences approved flaring operations at the Waukivory site, in order to reduce gas pressure in the four wells. The work does not involve the pumping of any flowback water from the wells to the surface.
26 June 2015

BTEX analysis and trade waste compliance

BTEX1 has been found by the NSW Environment Protection Authority2 and the Division of Resources and Energy3 to be naturally occurring in water contained in the deep coal seams at Gloucester. AGL is removing flowback water from the coal seams via its four wells at the Waukivory Pilot, from where it is being transported to a licensed liquid waste treatment facility north of Brisbane.

This table compares the regular analyses of flowback water taken at the Aboveground Storage Tank (AST) at Waukivory against limits known as ‘trigger levels’1 that would require further evaluation and the post-treatment analyses of the water prior to its lawful discharge as authorized liquid waste by AGL’s contractor Toxfree Solutions.

All sampling is undertaken in accordance with relevant regulatory requirements in NSW and Queensland.

Daily sampling:

20150730_Flowback water analysis table    

Fortnightly sampling:

20150909_Flowback water analysis table_fortnightly

If tables are hard to read, please open in Google Chrome instead.

1The BTEX (Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene, Xylenes) trigger levels have been developed by Environmental Risk Services Pty Ltd and endorsed by the Division of Resources and Energy.

2http://www.epa.nsw.gov.au/epamedia/EPAMedia15051902.htm

3http://www.resourcesandenergy.nsw.gov.au/about-us/news/2015/report-into-btex-findings

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