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Energy Project FAQs

Gas Energy Project FAQs

  • Q Are AGL projects guessing when they perform fracture operations?

  • 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.

  • Q Are any compressor stations being built?

  • No compressor stations are planned for the field other than at the Central Processing Facility.

  • Q Are the beneficial aquifers that farmers use separated from the coal seams AGL projects are targeting?

  • 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.

  • Q Can CSG operations coexist with other land uses?

  • 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.

  • Q Can extraction cause land subsidence?

  • No. Previous work has demonstrated that coal seam gas production does not cause measurable subsidence.

  • Q Did this pollute/contaminate water or soils?

  • 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.

  • Q Does AGL enter a farmer's land during CSG exploration or drilling without permission?

  • 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.

  • Q Does AGL "frac"?

  • 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.

  • Q Does AGL use BTEX chemicals in hydraulic fracturing?

  • No. AGL is committed to disclosing the chemicals and volumes used in hydraulic fracturing, if used.

  • Q Does each production well require electricity and storage for water?

  • 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.

  • Q Has the Avon River and its potential flooding impact to the project been considered?

  • Yes. The Avon River and potential flood impacts have been considered; however, we do not see this as a significant concern for the project.

  • Q What were the volumes of groundwater produced during drilling?

  • 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.

  • Q How can I contact the CCC?

  • If you would like to contact a member of the CCC, submit your interest via the contact us section of this website.

  • Q How do we explore for Coal Seam Gas (CSG)?

  • 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.

  • Q How does AGL operate in the area?

  • 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

  • Q How does Upstream Gas consult with the community?

  • 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.

  • Q How long does it take to install a well?

  • From the initial hardstand construction through to restoration will take approximately two to three months.

  • Q How many permanent jobs will be created?

  • 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.

  • Q How much water was disposed of on site, and how salty was it?

  • 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).

  • Q How will AGL manage heavy loads have on local bridges?

  • The transport of heavy loads is regulated by permits from the RTA with input from the police and local councils.

  • Q How will structures affect the scenic quality of the landscape, wildlife habitat and wildlife populations?

  • 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.

  • Q How will the pipeline be constructed across watercourses?

  • 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.

  • Q How will the Project's Sugarloaf 3 well incident be prevented from reccurring?

  • 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
  • Q Is Geology important, is every coal seam unique and is every well treated differently?

  • 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.

  • Q Is hydraulic fracturing or 'fraccing' a controlled process?

  • Contrary to the cartoons being used in the media, fractures don't 'go crazy' underground.

  • Q Is there a chance that the gas could leak?

  • 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.

  • Q Is there risk of subsidence from CSG wells at Camden?

  • 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.

  • Q Reserve levels are assigned a probability:

  • 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.

  • Q Was any vegetation affected?

  • 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.

  • Q Was the water disposed of in accordance with license conditions?

  • 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.

  • Q What actions has AGL taken regarding this incident at Project's Sugarloaf 3 well on 17 May 2011?

  • 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

  • Q What are gas reserves?

  • 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.

  • Q What are wellheads?

  • A wellhead comprises a pump, a separator, associated pipes and safety equipment. It is installed on a gravel hardstand approximately 10m x 10m.

  • Q What can the public do if they are being affected by traffic?

  • 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.

  • Q What happened at the Project's Sugarloaf 3 well on 17 May 2011?

  • 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.

  • Q What has happened since the incident at Project's Sugarloaf 3 well on 17 May 2011?

  • 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.

  • Q What is an Environmental Assessment?

  • 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.

  • Q What is Coal Seam Gas?

  • 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.

  • Q What is Seismic Exploration?

  • 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.

  • Q What is the CCC?

  • 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.

  • Q What is the Central Processing Facility?

  • 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.

  • Q What is the life of a producing CSG well?

  • 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.

  • Q What is the minimum spacing for gas wells (full production)?

  • 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.

  • Q What is the Plug and Abandon Process?

  • 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.

  • Q What noise does a compressor station make?

  • 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.

  • Q What remains after borehole exploration is completed?

  • 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.

  • Q What remedial activities have been completed?

  • 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.

  • Q What short and long-term plans does AGL have in place for the Tiedeman property?

  • 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.

  • Q What was the environmental impact of the sugarloaf incident?

  • 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.

  • Q Where will the gathering lines be located on each property?

  • 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.

  • Q Why was water pumped onto the ground during water bore drilling at Windermere?

  • 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).

  • Q Will landholders and the community be kept informed throughout the project?

  • 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).

  • Q Will the compressor station be connected by a network of pipelines?

  • All the underground gas and water gathering lines from the well field will connect into the CPF.

  • Q Will the pipeline construction area be restored upon completion?

  • 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.

  • Q Will the wells be connected by a network of roads and/or pipelines?

  • 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.

  • Q Will there be additional power lines throughout the community?

  • AGL will use existing power network where possible and generally connect the electricity to the each well site with underground cable.

  • Q Will there be many heavy vehicles?

  • 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.

  • Q Will you need to close the road when the compressor station is being constructed?

  • 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

Gas Storage FAQs

  • Q Are there health risks to the community such as air contamination, and what actions is AGL taking to reduce these risks?

  • A: Health risks to the community will be negligible.

    The design and construction of the facility will be in line with energy-efficient technology. There will be some gas emissions as part of standard operations created through the liquefaction process (i.e. the process to make liquefied natural gas). As is standard practice in gas facilities, the plant will have a flare to release gas build up from time to time.

  • Q Do you expect plume rise to occur from the proposal?

  • No. A small amount of gas will be burnt via the flare.

  • Q Has AGL taken into account sea level rises?

  • A: Yes. Flooding studies considered a rise in sea level. The site is not at risk of rising sea levels.

  • Q How are we storing the gas?

  • The Project includes an above ground insulated tank kept at atmospheric pressure, along with associated plant infrastructure. The natural gas is cooled to about minus 162°C and stored as a liquid known as Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). When LNG is needed, it is warmed up and converted back into natural gas.

  • Q How big will the LNG storage tank be?

  • The tank height from the ground to the roof apex will be up to 56 metres.

  • Q How does the NGSF work?

  • During times of lower gas use when there is extra gas, natural gas is supplied to the NGSF from the existing gas network via the project's 5.5 kilometer pipeline from the existing gas network. The gas is purified and refrigerated (liquefaction) to -162°C, the point where methane condenses to a liquid form. It is then pumped into the 30,000 cubic meter insulated storage tank.
    When demand for gas becomes high, such as during the winter months when people use it to heat their homes, the stored LNG can be heated until it is a gas (vaporisation) and re-injected into the gas distribution network for distribution to Newcastle, Central Coast and Greater Hunter regions.

  • Q How long is the pipeline from Hexham to the gas storage facility?

  • The pipeline is approximately 5.5km long.

  • Q How many jobs will be created?

  • During construction of the GSF, up to 300 people will be employed. Once constructed, up to 15 permanent full-time employees will be required.

  • Q How much is AGL investing?

  • The development will result in an investment by AGL of about $310 million.

  • Q How will the community be kept informed?

  • AGL will keep the local community updated throughout the planning and construction phases to ensure residents and local businesses are fully informed. AGL will update this website as relevant information becomes available. We also have a Community Consultative Committee (CCC) in place. Alternatively, the community can contact members of the project team directly. Our contact information can be found below.

    Newcastle Gas Storage
    Locked Bag 1837 St Leonards NSW 2065
    Direct 1300 473 660

  • Q Is LNG hazardous?

  • LNG is natural gas which has been cooled down sufficiently to form a liquid at atmospheric pressure. LNG is not like LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) which has to be stored under pressure.

    As a liquid, the risk of LNG burning is extremely low. It is colourless, odourless and non-toxic. It does not mix with water and leaves no residue.

    The hazards associated with LNG are similar to those of natural gas except that it is much cooler and therefore forms a much smaller gas cloud for the same size release.

    If LNG did escape from its storage containment to the environment, it would form a pool and begin warming immediately and returning to its gaseous form. As the gas warms up, the vapours become lighter than air and rise into the atmosphere and dissipate.

    LNG and natural gas are mainly composed of methane gas. Methane vapour is only flammable if it is within the concentration range of 5-15% gas in air, otherwise it is non-flammable.

  • Q Is there a risk of contaminating the community's water supply?

  • A: Construction and ongoing operation of the gas facility is not considered to be a high risk to the shallow underlying groundwater used as raw water for Newcastle's drinking water supply. Most facilities will be above ground, and surface water and groundwater monitoring systems will be in place to ensure early detection of any impacts. In the highly unlikely event of any spill/leak, LNG will evaporate so there is no risk to groundwater from the stored gas.

    Several layers of protection measures are proposed to protect the groundwater against the risks of contamination, including:

    • controlling all stormwater runoff from construction sites
    • providing sedimentation basins for all surface water runoff from disturbed areas
    • separating clean water (water from undisturbed areas) from potentially impacted water from construction activities
    • building temporary and permanent infrastructure to capture any spills or leaks
    • collecting and storing waste water before transporting offsite for treatment or disposal
    • pumping stormwater from the site to the Port Stephens Council drainage system at Old Punt Road
    • ongoing water monitoring to ensure water quality is maintained.
  • Q Is there a risk of fire at the facility and therefore bush fires?

  • A: Any spill of flammable material will be contained within the site area. If there is a fire subsequent to a spill, then the fire will be allowed to burn - LNG will vaporise and burn itself out. AGL is building the gas storage facility on a 28 ha parcel of land within the larger 250 ha industrial site at Tomago. This land is subject to bushfire threat. The required buffer zone will be maintained around the gas plant, the processing plant and storage tank to minimise the bushfire risk. The facility has been designed to operate with low potential bush fire threat. As is the case for all major fires, people around the site will need to evacuate the area to prevent injury from heat radiation. The buffer to the boundary fence will prevent immediate injury from radiation.

  • Q What are the benefits of the Project?

  • There are a number of key project benefits at national, state and local levels. These include:

    • Supporting the NSW State Government initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emission targets
    • Reducing NSW's dependence on gas imported from interstate, providing a more secure and continuous supply
    • Creating flow-on economic benefits to the region during the construction, commissioning and operational phases, such as employment opportunities.
    • Providing greater security of gas supply, particularly during peak load periods
    • Providing infrastructure support for the growing gas supply industry in NSW
  • Q What are the risks associated with the Gas Storage Facility?

  • The Gas Storage Facility will process, handle and store substantial quantities of LNG. The facility will be designed to Australian and International standards to minimise the risk of an incident happening and provide mitigation measures in the event an incident does occur.

    More than 100 small and large scale LNG storage facilities are in operation in the United States and Europe. A similar facility to this Project was built in Dandenong, Victoria, in 1980 and has experienced no adverse incidents.

    The construction, commissioning and operation of the Project will be subject to Government approvals processes, including the Work Cover Safety Case process, minimising risk to workers and the community.

    The safety, efficiency and stability of the Project will be achieved through the use of high-integrity safety systems, regular preventative maintenance programs, detection and protective measures. Security measures will include security patrols, protective enclosures, lighting and monitoring equipment.

    The site and plant layout will ensure that any operational issues are contained within the site boundaries, including an appropriate buffer zone as required under legislation.

  • Q What happens to the Facility if there is a power failure?

  • The main power for the facility is being provided from AusGrid's high voltage (33kV) network at a point in the network where two independent power networks meet, thereby providing redundant power supply. Should both sources of power fail, the gas storage facility has an emergency diesel power generation system designed to maintain all safety and integrity systems operational in case of a complete power failure.

  • Q What is the current status of the Project?

  • AGL aims to be ready to deliver gas to market from the Project in 2015. To meet this target, construction began in early 2012.

  • Q What is the NGSF?

  • The NGSF will store liquefied natural gas (LNG) for supply to the greater Newcastle region. Once complete, the $310 million facility will include:

    • A gas plant site, including gas processing equipment and a storage tank
    • An access road and utility corridor
    • A natural gas receiving station, and
    • An LNG tanker loading facility
    • A 5.5 kilometre natural gas pipeline
    • Related infrastructure.

    Construction of the facility will take three years. It will be operational in mid-2015.

  • Q What makes up the Project?

  • The Project comprises three components:

    • A gas pipeline will join the gas plant to the Hexham receiving station
    • A gas plant including a refrigeration plant to liquefy natural gas, an LNG storage tank, and a vaporisation system to convert the stored LNG back to natural gas for delivery into the pipeline. This will include an access road and utility corridor to allow utilities access from Old Punt Road
    • Hexham receiving station to transfer the natural gas to and from the Jemena distribution network.
    • The Newcastle Gas Storage Facility will also be supplied with natural gas from the future gas production at AGL’s Gloucester Gas Project. AGL is currently applying for a modification to the Part 3A approval of the Gloucester Gas Project to relocate the pipeline end from Hexham to within AGL’s Newcastle Gas Storage Facility.
  • Q What will AGL do with discarded water during the operation of the facility?

  • AGL proposes to truck wastewater from the Project site to an appropriate treatment facility.

  • Q What will be the anticipated length of the horizontal directional drilling (HDD) beneath the Hunter River?

  • The HDD length is anticipated to be approximately 600 metres.

  • Q What will happen to the Earps gum trees?

  • Of the approximate 20 ha of vegetation to be cleared, up to 15 Earps gums will need to be removed. These gums were planted following sand mining activities between 1970s and the 1990s. AGL is working closely with the Hunter Botanic Gardens to develop an offset strategy that ensures longer term minimal impact can be achieved. One of these initiatives is to replant seeds of these gums.

  • Q What will happen to the stormwater?

  • A: Stormwater from the active plant areas of the site will be captured and stored in an onsite holding pond prior to water quality testing, and then pumped via a dedicated stormwater pipeline along the access road to the Port Stephens Council stormwater system at Old Punt Road.

  • Q What will happen to the surface water?

  • A: Surface water in potentially contaminated areas will be collected in sumps. The quality of water in the sumps will be checked for contamination. If contaminated, it will be pumped to trucks and removed from the site. If uncontaminated, it will be manually released to the holding pond and discharged to stormwater.

  • Q When will consultation about the Project begin?

  • AGL has consulted extensively with relevant State and local government agencies, as well as local residents, landowners and local businesses. AGL will continue to liaise with stakeholders and the local community throughout construction completion and operations.

  • Q Why do we need gas storage?

  • The Project will provide a reserve of natural gas which will play a critical role in ensuring the security of supply during periods of peak energy demand or during periods of supply disruption. It will also support the development of gas-fired power generation which can be used to back up renewable energy supplies such as wind power. This is consistent with the New South Wales Government's future energy planning needs. The Project will help prevent supply constraints, particularly on cold winter days, with its capacity to store the equivalent of about two weeks' gas for the greater Newcastle region.

  • Q Why is AGL building a gas storage facility at Tomago?

  • The Tomago industrial area is appropriately zoned for this type of development and is close to a major demand centre. The site is adjacent to the Tomago aluminium smelter, a significant industrial operation with high standards of safety consistent with those of AGL. The site is large enough to provide the buffer zone as required by the Department of Planning and Infrastructure.

  • Q Why is the facility not located closer to Old Punt Road?

  • This proposed site was offered to AGL by Tomago Aluminum Company, and is suitable both environmentally and operationally.

  • Q Why not reduce the height of the storage tanks and increase the number (e.g. have two tanks @25-30m high) to reduce the visual impact?

  • The facility will not be visible to the public as it is set back more than 1km from the closest public road. The closest neighbours, the Botanic Gardens, some 500 metres from the site will not be visible to the site because of the bushland buffer zone.

  • Q Why was the access road not co-located with the emergency road?

  • A: We have identified the pipeline corridor (the emergency road) as a secondary means of escape from the plant site, should there be an incident that prevents escape along the access road.

  • Q Will Aboriginal cultural heritage be impacted?

  • The Project is on the boundary of two Local Aboriginal Land Councils (LALC), Awabakal LALC (south of the Hunter River) and Worimi LALC (north of the Hunter). The Hexham portion of the project is predominantly associated with the Awabakal clan subgroups, the Pambulong and the Ash Island Clan. There is potential for the Project related activities to disturb Aboriginal cultural heritage sites. Management procedures will be developed in consultation with the appropriate LALCs to ensure that in the event that any Aboriginal cultural heritage sites, features or artefacts are unearthed during construction, there will be a process to ensure they are protected.

  • Q Will the gas storage facility be noisy and dirty and cause more traffic?

  • A: Due to the distance of the primary project area (about 1km) from the main Tomago town, any associated visual, traffic and noise impacts should be minimal during construction. Ongoing plant operation will have little impact on the local community. The pipeline along Old Punt Road will be installed below ground so local impacts will be minimal.

    The anticipated road tanker traffic is three trucks per day and a transport hazard study will be undertaken to assess any risks associated with this.

  • Q Will the required buffer zone be contained within AGLs property boundary?

  • The buffer zone is within the property boundary.

  • Q Will vegetation and trees need to be removed?

  • Up to approximately 20 ha of vegetation will be removed within the primary Project area. An extensive range of environmental safeguards, mitigation measures and monitoring and management programs will be implemented to avoid or minimise impacts. Offset land will be provided and a strategy developed in consultation with the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), and the Department of Planning and Infrastructure (DP&I). AGL will also closely consult with local stakeholders who have community expertise in restoration and habitat protection (including the Hunter Botanic Gardens at Tomago) to develop long term sustainable community partnership programs.

  • Q Will you be drilling for gas at the project site?

  • No. We are building a gas storage facility. It is not a coal seam gas (CSG) project. The only drilling being undertaken is for geotechnical and groundwater monitoring purposes.

Hydroelectricity FAQs

  • Q How much power is generated via hydroelectricity in Australia?

  • Australia has more than 100 operating hydroelectric power stations with total installed capacity of about 8000 megawatts (MW). These are located in the areas of highest rainfall and elevation and are mostly in the Eastern Australia. The largest schemes are located in the Snowy Mountains and Tasmania.
  • Q What is hydroelectricity?

  • Hydroelectricity is electrical energy generated when falling water from reservoirs or flowing water from rivers, streams or waterfalls (run of river) is channeled through water turbines. The pressure of the flowing water on the turbine blades causes the shaft to rotate and the rotating shaft drives an electrical generator which converts the motion of the shaft into electrical energy. 
    Most commonly, water is dammed and the flow of water out of the dam to drive the turbines is controlled by the opening or closing of sluices, gates or pipes. This is commonly called penstock.

Landholders FAQs

  • Q What is coal seam gas?

  • 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.

  • Q How do you decide on well location?

  • The location of our coal seam gas wells is flexible.  We work with landholders to locate our wells and associated infrastructure to minimise impact to the landholder's current and future land uses.  We are mindful of our impact on the neighbours and do everything possible to minimise any disturbance.

  • Q What is the process of entering into an access and compensation agreement

  • If AGL is interested in placing a well on a property, the first thing we will do is to arrange a member of our Land and Approvals team to contact the landholder.  The Land and Approvals team member will be the landholder’s key point of contact.  Informal conversations will take place before any formal agreements need to be entered into.  This will give the landholders time to ask any questions they have, including to our environmental, groundwater and technical specialists.  This will also enable AGL to take into account any specific constraints or considerations the landholder may have, and discuss potential locations of infrastructure taking into account those matters.

  • Q How long will AGL be on my property?

  • The amount of time we are on your property will depend on the type of operation taking place.  Your AGL Land and Approvals contact will be able to advise you of the specifics of your property. Production wells generally have a life span of 15-20 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.

  • Q Will I receive compensation for AGL activities on my land?

  • AGL will compensate landholders for activities on their land.  Compensation will depend on the value of the land, as well as the type of activity proposed to be undertaken. 

  • Q What happens if a gate is left open?

  • AGL personnel and all contractors are inducted into each site and part of the induction includes any particulars regarding your property.  The general rule for all personnel accessing private property is to leave the gate as you find it and any AGL person that does not follow this procedure will be subject to disciplinary action and any stock losses that arise will be compensated by AGL.

  • Q Will your operations cause subsidence on my land?

  • No. Previous work has demonstrated that AGL’s coal seam gas production activities do not cause measurable subsidence.

  • Q Will coal seam gas activities impact my groundwater?

  • The local geology of an area determines what impact (if any) might occur to shallow groundwater as a result of CSG activities.  In many of the areas that AGL operates the impact is expected to be negligible.

    In addition to the natural geological conditions that exist, protection of shallow groundwater is established by having strict environmental management plans and groundwater monitoring plans and monitoring networks in place, constructing wells to best industry practice and monitoring well integrity, and containing and disposing all drilling and fracture stimulation fluid (where applicable).

  • Q How will the site be rehabilitated?

  • AGL works with landholders and farm managers to create a rehabilitation plan for their property.  As no two properties are the same early consultation will take place to determine the best way forward for the rehabilitation.  The aim is to get the land back to its original state or better in the quickest time possible through reseeding and monitoring.

  • Q Are the wells safe enough for my stock to be near them?

  • Production wells are fenced and cattle are unable to access the well.

  • Q Can I have access to environmental reports relating to my land?

  • Yes.  If you would like them, AGL will provide you with copies of any environmental reports (such as groundwater studies) which are relevant to your property.

  • Q Will the community be kept informed throughout the project?

  • Yes.  A thorough community engagement program will be prepared to ensure landholders and the community are 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).

  • Q What is seismic exploration?

  • 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.

  • Q What is a core hole?

  • A core hole is a hole drilled to take a core sample of coal and its surrounding geology. A core hole is typically 10 centimetres in diameter and can vary in depth from 300 metres to 1,500 metres, depending on the depth of the targeted coal seams.  A piece of core sample is typically five to six centimetres in diameter and sectioned into one metre lengths.

    Once core samples have been collected, they undergo a variety of tests to understand the rock, coal and gas properties including the amount and type of gas contained within the coal.  Other tests including down hole logging and analysis is also undertaken to provide geophysical information.

  • Q How is a core hole drilled?

  • An area of approximately 60 by 60 metres is usually required for drilling core holes.  The process used for drilling is similar to that used for domestic and irrigation bores, but at a larger scale.

    A drill rig is needed to extract the core samples.  Different rock structures dictate how quickly a core hole can be drilled, but typically the drill rig will be on site for up to eight weeks.

    Core holes are lined with steel casing cemented to the side of the hole, both for safety reasons and to isolate any aquifers that are intersected during the drilling process.

    Once the core sampling and testing is complete, the well is backfilled, or plugged, and cemented all the way to the surface.  A marker is placed at least two metres below ground level to mark the top of the well.  The site is then remediated to its original state or as prescribed by the landholder.

  • Q What is a stratigraphic hole?

  • This involves drilling exploration holes to retrieve and test drill cuttings and complete subsequent down hole logging and analysis.  The holes are typically designed to provide geological, permeability and gas composition data.

    Stratigraphic holes are generally cemented, plugged and abandoned in accordance with requirements, and then rehabilitated, unless the holes are needed for further exploration testing.

    An instrument called a piezometer may be installed into the hole for ongoing data collection and the hole may be capped and suspended for future testing work.

  • Q What is an exploration test well?

  • A test well is a gas well used to investigate the potential gas reserves in an area.  It is used to measure the flow of gas and the volume of water produced from the targeted coal seam.  A well is drilled down to the coal seam of interest.  The well is fully cased with steel and concrete.  The casing is perforated at the coal seam to allow the flow of water and gas from the seam.

    A test well generally operates for several months to collect the necessary data.  Once the testing is complete the well may be removed and the site rehabilitated or it may remain in place to allow for testing of other coal seams.

  • Q What happens when a coal seam is hydraulically fractured?

  • When hydraulic fracturing a coal seam, a fluid (the “fracture fluid”) is injected into the seam at pressures high enough to widen the existing fractures in the coal.  Sand is then pumped in to hold the fracture open, which creates a better path for gas and water to flow out of the coal seam and back to the surface.

    Typically for AGL’s operations, fractures are millimetres wide and extend for tens of metres into the coal seam.  The process is carefully managed so that there is minimal impact on the rock layers above and below the coal seam.

  • Q What is a fracture fluid?

  • The ingredients used to make up a fracture fluid are determined by the specific characteristics of the target coal seam, such as the ability for water or gas to flow through the coal (permeability), the number of coal seams, and the coal formation’s thickness, and stress or mechanical properties of the coal.  The fluid used also depends on the desired length and direction of the fracture. AGL has prepared a fact sheet on these activities to assist a landholders understanding of hydraulic fracturing.

    The fracture fluid is designed to have a certain viscosity or fluid thickness.  A low viscosity fluid, like water, tends to flow more easily and faster; while a high viscosity fluid, like honey, tends to flow less easily and slower.

    Most fracture fluids used by AGL are simply sand and water.  Sometimes small amounts (usually less than 2 percent of the total volume) of commonly-used household chemicals are added to prevent bacterial growth, to make it easier to pump the fracture fluid into the coal seam, and to thicken the fluid so that less water is needed to carry the sand into the fracture.

  • Q Are the fracture fluids used in coal seam gas wells safe?

  • Yes.  The chemicals used are highly diluted when injected into the coal seam and are then further diluted by the naturally occurring water in the coal seam.

    No BTEX chemicals (Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene and Xylenes) are used or have ever been used by AGL in any of its fracturing fluids.  Any chemicals used must be disclosed to, and are assessed for safety by, government agencies during the application process and before the hydraulic fracture operation takes place.  Under the recently announced NSW Code of Practice for Coal Seam Gas Fracture Stimulation, full disclosure is required of all additives used for fracturing in NSW.  A human health and ecological risk assessment is conducted for every fracture fluid and its constituents must confirm that the use of a fracture fluid is of minimal risk before being used.

  • Q Where can I go for more information?

Wind Farm FAQs

  • Q Do wind turbines emit low frequency noise?

  • Modern wind turbines can generate noise across the frequency range of human hearing.  As with most sounds, some of this energy occurs below the level of human hearing.  Human hearing ability ranges from 20Hz to 20,000Hz, with 1dB being the smallest change in noise that humans can detect.  

    Low frequency noise refers to noise in the range of 10 to 200 Hertz (Hz) and infrasound occurs in the range of 20 Hz down to 0.001 Hz – below what the human ear can pick up.

    AGL undertakes regular noise monitoring to ensure that its wind farms are compliant with the noise limits prescribed in the respective wind farm planning permits. 

  • Q Does low frequency noise from wind turbines make people sick?

  • No. There is currently no scientific data to suggest that the levels of low frequency noise emitted by wind turbines make humans sick. Research to date has not shown any negative health effects at the noise levels produced by operational wind turbines.  

    Advances in technology mean that noise from wind turbines is minimal. Research conducted on modern wind turbines has shown that the levels of low frequency noise and infrasound are below accepted thresholds (British Wind Energy Association 2005).  

  • Q How do wind turbines work?

  • A wind turbine generator consists of a concrete foundation, a fixed support tower, a nacelle (generator and gearbox assembly) and a three-blade rotor assembly. Wind turbines are electronically controlled with on-board computers that automatically start, stop and monitor each turbine. The turbines start generating electricity in a light breeze (14 km per hour), and reach full production in steady winds (around 50 km per hour). To avoid damage in gale force winds (90 km per hour), the wind turbines automatically feather their blades into the wind for minimum resistance and effectively shut down. Allowing for the times when there is too little or too much wind , the wind turbines each generate around 7,500 MWh of electricity each year.

    When the rotor assembly turns in the wind, it rotates a shaft that is connected to a large gearbox, which in turn drives an electrical generator. The generator converts rotational energy into electrical energy at 690 volts AC. The blade angle of the rotor is automatically and continuously adjusted, via on-board computer control, to optimise rotation speed and therefore electricity generation for any given wind condition. The generated power is fed via flexible cables to a kiosk transformer at the base of each tower, which steps up the voltage to 33,000 Volts. A combination of ridge-top buried cables, then overhead power lines, transfers the generated power to a switchroom and substation in the valley below. From there the voltage is stepped up again via a 105 MVA transformer to a higher voltage suitable for long distance transmission, typically 275,000 volts and fed into the grid via a high voltage transmission infrastructure.

  • Q What about Infrasound?

  • Infrasound is generated by a range of natural sources, including waves on a beach and against the coastline, waterfalls and wind. It is also generated by a wide range of man-made sources such as industrial processes, vehicles, air conditioning and ventilation systems and wind farms.
    Studies have confirmed that infrasound from wind farms is less than that caused through naturally occurring means.
    The studies conclude that there are no plausible links to adverse health from infrasound emanating from wind turbines.

  • Q What are the approval processes currently for wind farms in Australia?

  • There is a considerable approval process for every wind farm development which includes rigorous noise
    assessment. Compliance is required with relevant state EPA guidelines and regulation.  Many development permit conditions also reference the requirements of either:
    • New Zealand Standard NZ 6808:1998 Acoustic – The Assessment and Measurement of Sound from
    Wind Turbine Generators; or
    • Environmental Noise Guidelines: Wind Farms (SA EPA 2003)
    Under the SA EPA guidelines, background noise is measured before the wind turbines are installed for two
    weeks at 10 minute intervals. Ongoing monitoring of noise levels is undertaken after construction
    throughout the life of the wind farm.
    The Commonwealth and State Governments of Australia, through the Environment Protection and
    Heritage Council (EPHC), are currently developing national guidelines for wind farm developments. These
    guidelines will address the management of noise from wind farms.  

  • Q What rights do communities and residents have?

  • Communities near wind turbines have the full range of rights available to them under Australian law.  
    Residents should discuss any concerns that they have about noise with the wind farm project developer.  
    Wind energy developers acknowledge local communities are very important and take all community
    concerns very seriously.
    If necessary, individuals can also talk to their state Environment Protection Authority about their concerns.

  • Q What will happen when the wind farm reaches the end of its life?

  • Wind Farm's are expected to have a base life of approximately 25 years.
    After this time, the site will be reviewed and assessed to determine whether the wind farm may be upgraded with the latest turbine technology or otherwise decommissioned through a phased approach - dismantling the above ground equipment and then removing it from the site, and rehabilitating the site.
    When a wind farm is decommissioned, the site can be returned to essentially the same state as it was before the wind farm was built.

  • Q Will erosion be caused by constructing or operating the wind farm?

  • Modern construction techniques and strict environmental guidelines are designed to protect the environment and to minimise the likelihood of erosion. Construction progress will be monitored and audited by AGL and the relevant authorities at various stages and Environmental Management Plans are required to be approved before construction commences.

  • Q Can my TV and radio reception be negatively impacted?

  • Wind Turbines can interfere with TV and radio reception, and because of this the Planning Permit requires that a pre and post construction survey is conducted. Measurements of reception quality at properties around the wind farm (prior to construction commencing) has been conducted including at neighbouring properties where approval has been granted. Following completion of construction, we will conduct the same measurements, and if signal deterioration is observed and there is an impact to reception as a result of the wind farm, then AGL must undertake measures to make good.

  • Q This area has a history of issues relating to salinity. Will salinity be impacted by constructing or operating the wind farm?

  • Throughout the permitting process, many representations have been made regarding concerns that construction and operation of the wind farm will increase current salinity levels.
    Since purchasing the development rights to this project, AGL has commissioned an additional assessment and report regarding the potential impact by the wind farm to the existing salinity issues. The report confirms that neither construction nor operation of the wind farm will impact or accelerate salinity.
    As a requirement of the Planning Permit, AGL is required to prepare a Salinity Management Program that identifies locations and types of trees that landowners may plant to address salinity issues.
    Further, AGL are contributing $10,000 per annum to a salinity management program as required by the planning permit. This contribution is CP Indexed and will run for the duration of the wind farm project (construction and operation).

  • Q Will the turbines frighten sheep and other animals?

  • Wind turbines do not have any noticeable impact on livestock. Animals such as cattle and sheep habitually graze around the wind turbines undisturbed. In fact on hot summer days you will regularly see cattle and sheep lining up in the shade of the turbine towers.

  • Q Will the Wind Farm impact on areas of Cultural Significance?

  • The general area around Glenthompson and beyond does contain areas of cultural significance. This includes archaeological sites associated with Indigenous Australians plus areas of European significance - in particular the Major Mitchell Trail.
    Substantial investigation has taken place and detailed mapping prepared identifying areas of cultural significance. The wind farm design has taken account of this information and infrastructure associated with the wind farm will not impact these areas.
    As an added insurance, agreements and processes are in place to ensure that if any archaeological artefacts are discovered during construction, that this is reported immediately to registered and relevant groups so that appropriate investigations and recommendation may be made.

  • Q Will the wind turbines impact birds and other wildlife?

  • While wind turbines, like many tall man-made structures, present a collision risk to birds and bats, a report (Wind Energy -The Myths and the Facts- Sustainability Victoria 2006) advises that at time of writing, no rare, threatened or endangered species have been killed as a result of wind turbines in Victoria. During the planning process surveys of land based fauna have also been conducted.
    From these surveys, specific considerations have been given to habitat for the 'Striped Legless Lizard' and Brolgas and Bats as these have been identified as the fauna most likely to be impacted by wind farms.
    As a result, wind turbines and other infrastructure will not be placed in areas nominated as areas where the 'Striped Legless Lizard' has been sighted through formal recognised surveys that have been considered in the Planning Permit and AGL will implement a Bat and Avifauna Management Plan also as required by the Planning Permit.

Solar Energy Project FAQs

  • Q How big are the Solar projects?

  • Broken Hill
    The Broken Hill site will comprise of a nominal 53 megawatt site approximately five kilometres southwest of Broken Hill. Over 650,000 solar PV modules will be installed at the site and will cover an area of approximately 125 hectares (ha).

    The Nyngan project will be a nominal 102 MW solar plant located approximately 10 kilometres west of Nyngan. Over 1,300,000 solar PV modules will be installed at the site and will cover approximately 250 hectares (ha). The Nyngan Solar Plant is likely to be one of the largest solar projects in the Southern Hemisphere.

  • Q How can I find out more about the project?

  • Nyngan
    A: AGL will stay in close contact with the Bogan Shire Council and other local stakeholders throughout project development and construction. We will also ensure that this website is continuously updated with the latest project information. Additional information about the project is available on the DoPI website.

    Broken Hill
    A: The Environmental Assessment (EA), submissions and Submissions Report are available electronically on the Department of Planning & Infrastructure (DoPI) website.

  • Q How can the community provide feedback on the project?

  • AGL will directly engage with local communities and stakeholders in Broken Hill to describe the proposed projects, the potential impacts, and the expected benefits and to seek community input. Our commitment to community engagement is a core part of our overall approach to sustainability. We act on our committed goal stated in AGL’s Sustainability Report 2010 to “Connect AGL’s business and the community in ways that make a genuine contribution, engage our people and strengthen our business”. During the environmental assessment, approval and construction periods, AGL is committed to developing sustainable partnerships with our stakeholders and the community. Part of this approach will mean developing and strengthening community relationships with key partners such as the Broken Hill City Council and other key community leaders. We will also ensure that the project website is continuously updated with the latest project information.

  • Q How long will it take to build?

  • Planning and development for the project will take place in 2012-13, with construction expected to commence in 2014. Commercial operation is expected to start at the end of 2015.

  • Q How many houses will this energy supply?

  • Nyngan
    A: The Nyngan Solar Plant will generate enough clean, green energy to power approximately 33,000 average NSW households per year.
    Broken Hill
    A: The Broken Hill Solar Plant will generate enough clean, green energy to power over 17,000 average NSW households per year.

  • Q How many local jobs will be created?

  • Nyngan
    A: AGL estimates that the project will create up to 300 direct construction jobs during the approximately 19 month construction period. Additional manufacturing and service jobs will also be created in the region to support project development and construction.
    Up to four additional jobs will be created to operate and maintain the solar plant during its expected 30 year life, providing long term employment opportunities and associated benefits for local businesses and services.
    Broken Hill
    A: AGL estimates that the project will create up to 150 direct construction jobs during the approximately 17 month construction period. Additional manufacturing and service jobs will also be created in the region to support project development and construction.

    Up to four additional jobs will be created to operate and maintain the solar plant during its expected 30 year life, providing long term employment opportunities and associated benefits for local businesses and services.

  • Q How many solar panels will be used?

  • Nyngan
    A: Over 1,350,000 solar PV modules will be installed at the site. The modules will be installed at a fixed (non-tracking) tilt, at a 25 degree angle, and will face north.
    Broken Hill
    A: Over 650,000 solar PV modules will be installed at the site. The modules will be installed at a fixed (non-tracking) tilt, at a 25 degree angle, and will face north.

  • Q How many tonnes of Greenhouse Gas will be avoided?

  • Nyngan
    A: The clean energy generated by the Nyngan Solar Plant will result in greenhouse gas emission savings of over 203,000 tonnes per annum.
    Broken Hill
    A: The clean energy generated by the Broken Hill Solar Plant will result in greenhouse gas emission savings of over 109,000 tonnes per annum.

  • Q How much energy will be produced?

  • Nyngan
    A: The plant will generate an estimated 233,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) in its first year. The output of the solar plant will vary on a daily basis depending on the weather and temperature and will vary seasonally based on the number of sunshine hours. The output of all solar PV modules tends to slowly degrade over time, which will reduce the expected output in future years.
    Broken Hill
    A: The plant will generate an estimated 126,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) in its first year. The output of the solar plant will vary on a daily basis depending on the weather and temperature and will vary seasonally based on the number of sunshine hours. The output of all solar PV modules tends to slowly degrade over time, which will reduce the expected output in future years.

  • Q How much will the project cost?

  • Nyngan
    A: The Nyngan Solar Plant will cost approximately $300 million to construct. This includes the cost of engineering design, procurement and construction of the solar plant, including the solar PV modules, inverters, support frames, cabling, transformers, control system, maintenance building, fencing, roads, and other plant features. In addition, this includes the cost of connection to the existing electrical grid.
    Broken Hill
    A: The Broken Hill Solar Plant will cost approximately $150 million to construct. This includes the cost of engineering design, procurement and construction of the solar plant, including the solar PV modules, inverters, support frames, cabling, transformers, control system, maintenance building, fencing, roads, and other plant features. In addition, this includes the cost of connection to the existing electrical grid.

  • Q What are some of the benefits to the community?

  • AGL estimates that up to 150 to 250 direct construction jobs will be created during plant construction. Additional jobs will be created in the local community to support the construction effort and the project will stimulate the local and regional economy (materials supply, shopping centres, hotels, restaurants).

  • Q What are the construction impacts?

  • There will be some local impact from increased traffic during the construction period. The Barrier Highway, along with a number of adjacent access 
    roads, will be used to transport workers and materials to and from both project sites during construction. This will result in a small, temporary increase in the volume of traffic along the highway however this should not have a significant effect on traffic flows or access to any roads, properties or facilities.
    All traffic movements relating to the project will be conducted during the construction hours. (7am – 6pm, Monday to Friday, 8am – 1pm on Saturdays and at no time on Sundays or public holidays unless prior approval has been granted). AGL and First Solar will also work closely with the local council to develop and implement a Traffic Management Plan to further mitigate traffic impacts during the construction period.

  • Q What is a solar plant?

  • A solar plant is a power station that uses energy from the sun to generate electricity. At the Broken Hill Solar Plant, photovoltaic (PV) modules will be used to convert sunlight into electricity which will be fed into the electrical grid. These PV modules are essentially the same as the solar panels used on residential rooftops. At the Broken Hill Solar Plant there will be over 650,000 PV modules progressively connected together to provide a nominal generation capacity of 53 megawatts (MW) of alternating current (AC).

  • Q When will construction begin?

  • Nyngan
    A: AGL will develop the project in 2012-13, with the aim of commencing construction in 2014. Construction is expected to take approximately 19 months to complete, and the Nyngan Solar Plant will be commissioned by the end of 2015.
    Broken Hill
    A: AGL will develop the project in 2012-13, with the aim of commencing construction in 2014. Construction is expected to take approximately 17 months to complete, and the Broken Hill Solar Plant will be commissioned by the end of 2015.

  • Q Why has AGL chosen these particular project locations?

  • These project locations have been chosen due to a combination of the strong solar resource in central NSW, the proximity of the site to the existing electrical grid, the relatively flat, rural topography and the existence of appropriate buffers to residential areas.

Geothermal Energy FAQs

  • Q How does AGL explore for geothermal energy?

  • Exploration for geothermal energy involves drilling a well up to 600m deep with a small truck mounted drill rig over several days. The temperature beneath the surface is measured with a probe placed on a wireline. Shallow aquifers are protected by cementing steel casing into the well.

  • Q What is geothermal energy?

  • Geothermal

    Geothermal energy is power extracted from heat stored in the earth. The temperature beneath the earth's surface increases with depth. Due to volcanic activity or radioactive decay in some parts of the world, heat is closer to the earth's surface. In Australia, there are two main sources of geothermal energy: Hot Sedimentary Aquifers (HSA) and Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS). HSA occur within water-laden sedimentary horizons at 2.5 to 3.5km below the earth's surface. EGS energy is generated by special high heat producing granites deeper than 3km. The heat inside these granites is trapped by overlying rocks which act as an insulating blanket. The heat is extracted from these granites by circulating water through them in an engineered, artificial reservoir or underground heat exchanger. In both HSA and EGS, geothermal energy is produced by extracting the hot water that is circulated between the sub surface rocks or by pumping cold water into the hot rocks and returning the heated water to the surface to drive turbines to produce electricity.

  • Q What is the Plug and Abandon Process?

  • The plug and abandon process is to ensure there is no vertical migration of fluids between different water sources in the strata.

    1. The steel casing is cut off 1.5 metres below ground;
    2. A pipe is lowered to the bottom of the steel and concrete lined hole;
    3. Concrete grout is pumped through the pipe which is slowly lifted as the hole fills;
    4. A metal identification plate is welded to the top of the casing; and
    5. The hole is filled with soil and the area restored to its original contour and seeded to ensure proper plant coverage.
  • Q What remains after exploration is completed?

  • The surface impact is minimal, with a ground sheet deployed before the drill rig arrives. Once the temperature logging is completed the well is plugged and abandoned and the site rehabilitated.

  • Q Where else is geothermal exploration occurring?

  • The world's geothermal industry today is located on tectonic plate boundaries in places such as New Zealand, The Philippines and Iceland where steam produced by volcanic activity is extracted to drive turbines that produce electricity.

Thermal Energy FAQs

  • Q How is electricity generated from Loy Yang

  • AGL Loy Yang uses steam to make electricity at its Loy Yang A power station. The power station uses brown coal, supplied exclusively by the adjacent open cut mine also owned and operated by AGL, as the fuel source to generate electricity.

    Coal is transported by conveyor belt to an 80,000 tonne capacity bunker and then directly by conveyor belt from the bunker to both AGL Loy Yang A and the neighbouring Loy Yang B power station, which is separately owned.

    Coal-fired electricity is generated by burning coal to boil water and produce high-pressure jets of steam. This high-pressure steam is used to turn turbine blades that are connected to a generator.

    The generator produces electricity, which is then supplied to customers who deliver it to end users via a transmission network across Victoria.


  • Q How much lower are actual emissions than Approved Method?

  • The predicted levels of emissions are very conservative and worst case. The following is an example of how the predicted level of NOx emissions are reduced by taking slightly more realistic assumptions: The use of a 99.9th percentile statistic - level exceeded once in every 1000 hours (assuming constant operation), or approximately 1 hour per year for a plant that operates at less than 15% operating duty). The use of a NOx ratio of 35%. NOx ratios (when applied) typically range between 20% and 35%. From gas-fired combustion sources, a NOx ratio of 10% will be present in the stack, and will increase in the atmosphere, as the NOx is oxidised by ozone. The use of a margin between typical operation and the licence limit. A manufacturer's guarantee ensures that under normal operation, the plant will operate within the licence limit. This guarantee includes headroom for fluctuations, hence on average emissions will be below the limit. The 60% (shaded below) is based on an assumed average (not maximum) operation at 15ppm NOx.

  • Q What are the concentrations of volatile organic compounds?

  • The following are the worst case modelled emissions based a 1500MW power station and using the conservative assumptions required by the OEH approved methods. The OEH do not require modelling of volatile organic compounds (also known as Hazardous Air Pollutants [HAPs]) as natural gas generation is known to produce then is significant quantities, but AGL have undertaken further modelling to show worst case disbursement of these compounds.

  • Q What does air emissions modeling mean and what comes out of the stack?

  • The hourly emissions modeling are are based on the F Class turbines and uses a combination of start-up and operating modes to give worst case results.



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