August 2012, Gas well ablaze on Arrow Energy CSG mining land in Darling Downs, Qld.
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.”
Several community groups and scientists reject the government and industry explanation for the cause of the fire:
“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.”
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 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.”
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.
20 August 2012, The Courier-Mail, Brisbane: ‘Coal gas stream blaze still alight at Daandine, west of Dalby’ http://www.news.com.au/national/coal-gas-stream-blaze-still-alight-west-of-dalby/story-fncynjr2-1226453647479