Coal Seam Gas, UCG are different
COAL seam gas (CSG) companies pushing to pipe liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the Surat Basin to Gladstone have distanced themselves from a Kingaroy plant that has been shut down after tests found dangerous chemicals may had been leaked into underground water sources.
Late last week, the Department of Environment and Resource Management (DERM) ordered Cougar Energy to close its underground coal gasification (UCG) plant near Kingaroy, after test bores discovered the presence of benzene and toluene in the groundwater.
A spokesperson for QGC, the company behind the Queensland Curtis LNG (QCLNG) Project which was last week asked by Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett for more information on its environmental impacts, said UCG and coal seam gas extraction were not comparable processes as UCG burns coal underground while CSG extracts gas.
“We have long been concerned about the environmental acceptability of UCG and its potential to pollute groundwater,” the QGC spokesperson said.
“QGC's coal seam gas extraction operations in the Surat Basin do not involve the use of carcinogenic chemicals.
“We are confident that our operations pose no risk to groundwater supplies on which communities rely.”
A spokesperson for Arrow, another company working on an LNG project in the Surat Basin, said DERM's decision to close Cougar Energy's USG plant has no bearing on Arrow Energy's current activities or future plans.
“The coal seam gas and UCG industries are completely separate,” the spokesperson said.
“It's unfair to make any comparisons between the two because the technologies used by each industry in the gas extraction process are entirely different.
On Monday, Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Minister Stephen Robertson met with senior representatives of the UCG sector in Queensland.
He discussed the implications of the investigation underway at Cougar Energy's trial plant near Kingaroy.
Mr Robertson told company representatives from Linc Energy, Carbon Energy - who run pilot projects near Chinchilla, that while the circumstances of each project would be evaluated individually, Cougar Energy contamination incidents raised concerns for the whole industry sector.