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
Map
Website

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’ http://www.news.com.au/national/coal-gas-stream-blaze-still-alight-west-of-dalby/story-fncynjr2-1226453647479

Further reading:

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

 

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About Justin Field

I am a public commentator on mining, energy, democracy and environmental issues and an active member of the Greens in NSW. For the last four years I have been actively involved in the social movement against inappropriate mining and opposed to the quarry mentality that seems to be driving energy, economic and social policy in Australia today. I spent the three years previous as a policy advisor to Greens MPs in the NSW Parliament, most recently for Jeremy Buckingham with a focus on the mining portfolio. My background includes seven years in the Australian Army between 2000 and 2007. Following Officer Training at Duntroon in Canberra I had the rare privilege to be posted to The Pilbara Regiment in north Western Australia. Based first at Exmouth, then later at Karratha, I was able to see the impacts of large scale mining, processing and exporting on the environment and cultural heritage of the Pilbara. I grew up in Gladstone Queensland, and for some time on a small pawpaw and mango farm just outside of town. That farm was compulsorily acquired by the Queensland Government to make way for the shale oil industry that was proposed for the region. Farming in the district all but disappeared as a result of the buy-up. What has come to Gladstone is the a massive expansion of coal exports and more recently the construction of three liquified gas export plants on Curtis Island, much of which was previously pristine, located at the Southern end of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Today I live and work part-time in Sydney and part-time on the NSW South Coast. Is is one of the few areas of NSW not covered mining exploration licences (however Leichhardt Resources announced plans in early 2013 to drill for coal seam gas in the Shoalhaven). I am currently working as the Senior Strategist for The Sunrise Project, working with coal and gas impacted communities to help drive the transition of Australia’s energy systems to being renewable and sustainable. My blog enables me to test my ideas and air my opinions. All opinions are my own and do not represent The Sunrise Project or the Greens. I am happy to receive any questions or feedback at justinfield1@gmail.com You can follow me @justinrfield on Twitter, 'Justin Field' on facebook or view my professional experience at LinkedIn.

Posted on September 26, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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