August 2012, Gas well ablaze on Arrow Energy CSG mining land in Darling Downs, Qld.

Key Information:
Incident Type: Gas well fire
Date: August 2012
Location: Daandine, west of Dalby Qld
Company: Arrow Energy

Description of Incident:
A methane fire in a hole on coal seam gas land caught fire and took several days to be extinguished by Queensland authorities.

See ABC Queensland News story here

At the height of the incident Queensland’s Minister for Mines, Andrew Cripps, said “Officers from the Petroleum and Gas Inspectorate of my Department will oversee a two-stage operation beginning tomorrow that will firstly, extinguish the shallow flame, stabilise the former exploration site, and then seal it.”

On August 24th the Qld Govt announced that the fire had been put out ‘by pumping water into the hole’ and that there is no scientific evidence linking it to the CSG industry, a claim backed by Arrow Energy (ABC News 29-8-12).

Arrow Energy said the fire was not connected to one of their coal seam gas wells but was ‘an old coal mining exploration hole’.  This claim was rejected by Lock the Gate’s Drew Hutton who said the methane leak was directly linked to CSG mining in the area.

Mr Cripps strongly rejected Hutton’s claims: “I’d like to single out anti-CSG activist Drew Hutton for making constant, unsubstantiated claims that this incident is directly-related to CSG production.”

Qld Govt’s immediate response

Several community groups and scientists reject the government and industry explanation for the cause of the fire:

‘Community fires up over gas blaze’

“Lock the Gate Alliance president Drew Hutton said blaming the methane leak and fire on the former coal mine was “pathetic” and defied commonsense.

“The coal seam gas industry can always come up with reasons why they are not to blame for these incidents but none of this was happening before the companies began de-watering and de-pressurising the coal seams on the western Darling Downs, Mr Hutton said.”

Geologist claims coal seam gas could be cause

Monash University engineer and geology expert Gavin Mudd says:

“It is very possible the fire is linked [to CSG activities]… CSG mining involves pumping out a lot of water to release the gas.

“By pumping out all that water, the ground water pressure drops allowing gas to start flowing in places it has never flowed in the past.

“It could surface anywhere including from old coal wells. It beggars belief that companies fiddling with methane are trying to pretend there is no risk of gas leaks.”

Agforce fears gas fire repeat

“AgForce spokesman Wayne Newton says the fire has been burning in an old exploratory hole that has not been capped.

“Often the exploration drilling rig would simply pull out from that hole and simply move away without any proper and due plugging,” he said.

“In this case it’s simply proven to be an exit for the gas from the coal seam. We’re now concerned about how many more of these holes that can open up again and allow gas to the surface.”

‘Rural lobby launch independent probe’

David Hamilton from the Basin Sustainability Alliance says there should be further investigations.

“What we’re concerned about is why did that test well start leaking coal seam gas?” Mr Hamilton said.

“Are we having or likely to have that same problem elsewhere? What we’d like to see is the Government do more and commission an independent study into this.”

Since August 29th there has been no further comment by either the Queensland Government or Arrow Energy in regard to this incident.

Initial Media:

20 August 2012, The Courier-Mail, Brisbane: ‘Coal gas stream blaze still alight at Daandine, west of Dalby’

Further reading:

Lock the Gate media release
Queensland Country Life
Media summary of initial incident



May 2011 to March 2012, Illegal CSG water disposal by Metgasco at Casino sewrage station

Key Information:
Incident Type: Illegal waste water disposal
Date: May 2011 to March 2012
Location: Casino, Clarence Moreton Basin, NSW
Company: Metgasco

Description of Incident:

Lock the Gate Northern Rivers received confirmation from the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) that Metgasco have been disposing of wastewater from its coal seam gas exploration activities illegally at the Casino Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) for almost a year up to March 2012.

This wastewater disposal practice represented a violation of both the gas company’s water management plan as well as the Richmond Valley Council’s STP license and both parties have been told by the EPA to stop immediately. A total of 1.36 million litres of produced coal seam gas water had been disposed of at the STP between May 2011 and March 2012.

This information is contained in a letter from the EPA to lawyers acting for Lock the Gate Northern Rivers which was received in early June 2012.

See the Lock the Gate Northern Rivers Media Release.

Initial Media:
11 June, SMH: Coal seam effluent salts sewage

Follow up information:

4 June 2012, REPORT – The Truth Spills Out: A Case Study of Coal Seam Gas Exploration in the Pilliga

This report by the Northern Inland Council for the Environment and The Wilderness Society contains damning evidence that coal seam gas operations in the Pilliga Forest have resulted in harm to the environment, including water pollution and soil contamination.  It alleges the licence holder has not complied with the provisions of the Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991.

You can download the entire report here.

For more information on coal seam gas in the Pilliga go to Stop Pilliga Coal Seam Gas or to the Santos CSG NSW website

Here is a summary of findings:

  • There is evidence of systemic and serious breaches of laws and regulations in the Pilliga Forest which have only been revealed as a result of community pressure.
  • The NSW Government has repeatedly relied on inaccurate information provided by gas companies in their public statements instead of collecting their own information.
  • Despite claiming to be undertaking a comprehensive investigation of coal seam gas operations in the Pilliga from early August 2011, the NSW Government failed to identify or act on the major breaches that were reported by environment groups after that date.
  • The NSW Government response to any substantive public complaint is to ‘announce’ that it is investigating, but such investigations in many cases appear to be nothing more than a tokenistic request for gas companies to respond to the complaint.
  • In fact, there have been up to seven different investigations ‘announced’ into coal seam gas operations in the Pilliga over the last 12 months. The scope and nature of those investigations has not been explained to the community and there is no public transparency in relation to them.
  • None of those investigations has yet led to any regulatory action against the companies involved.
  • The delay and inadequacies in Government responses means that it has not collected vital information relevant to properly investigate the matters in a timely manner.
  • There is evidence of a disturbing pattern of denial and blame-shifting by coal seam gas companies and governments when responding to genuine community complaints.
  • Statements made by Santos and Eastern Star Gas on a number of occasions do not match the facts as later revealed.

Related Media:

4 June, The World Today (audio file)

Government Response:


29 May 2012, Gas release bubbling up through Condamine River

Key Information:
Incident Type: Gas Release
Date: Identified 29 May 2012
Location: Chinchilla, Surat Basin, Qld (40km West of Chinchilla on the Condamine River)
Company: Origin
Video of Incident: Gasileaks

Description of Incident:

From the Lock the Gate Alliance (30 May) media release:

“The gas is bubbling to the surface in at least four spots along this stretch of the river and, according to a local landowner, the coal Seam gas company operating in the area – Origin – has identified it as coal seam gas and is testing to see which of its seams it comes from.”

Origin Energy (30 May) media release:

“We are confident that the seepage apparent in the Condamine River does not result from our activities. Origin’s nearest gas well infrastructure comprises four pilot wells one kilometre away from the occurrence.” 

Qld Government response (30 May) in The Land Online media reporting:

“The state government yesterday sent liquid natural gas investigators to the site, a fishing spot known locally as the “coal hole”.

“The LNG Enforcement Unit began investigations after a landholder raised concerns about the possible causes of bubbling gas in the Condamine River about six kilometres downstream of Chinchilla weir,” Mr Cripps (Queensland Natural Resources Minister Andrew Cripps) said.

 “All those wells are cased and not part of a production field and there are no CSG pipelines in the vicinity, he said.

 “Based on this information, the enforcement unit advised the landholder that the cause of the bubbles was unlikely to be CSG activities,” he said.

Mr Cripps said Origin Energy’s tests showed the methane was naturally occurring and “rising” through the geology of the area.

Initial Media:
29 May, Kate Ausburn: Coal seam gas leak causes Condamine River to bubble?
30 May, ABC Online: Claim CSG river leak caught on video
30 May, The Australian: CSG ‘bubbling to surface’ along river
30 May, The Land Online: CSG video claims to show river leak 
31 May, 9 News Online: CSG linked to river bubbles, expert says

 Follow up information:


5/6 May 2012, Well Blowout at a QGC rig in the Surat Basin

Key Information:
Incident Type: Well Blowout
Date: 5/6 May 2012
Location: Chinchilla, Surat Basin, Qld
Company: Queensland Gas Company (QGC)

Description of Incident:
During drilling at the Argyle 162 well 25km southwest of Chinchilla as gas blowout occurred forcing QGC to suspend drilling operations and implement at 150m exclusion zone around the rig. At the time of the incident the company acknowledged it could take days to stem the leaking gas.

Initial Media:
6 May, Courier Mail: Gas leak forces suspension at Queensland Gas Company rig at Surat Basin
6 May, Brisbane Times: Coal seam gas leak may take days to fix

Follow up information:
8 May, QGC Media Release: Gas field leak stopped