Some pipelines in the US have exploded.
Some pipelines in the US have exploded.

Farmers worried over gas pipelines

FARMERS along the proposed coal seam gas (CSG) pipeline from Gladstone to the Surat Basin are warning of gas explosions, damaged agricultural land and contaminated water supplies.

Reports that natural gas explosions have killed 67 people and injured 280 others in the US over the past five years have caused experts to question the ability of regulatory authorities to adequately control this new and expanding industry.

The Observer has reported how the Queensland Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Minister Stephen Robertson is releasing statements weekly trying to stem community concerns and in turn setting more regulations for CSG to LNG proponents.

Surat Basin Friends of the Earth spokesman Drew Hutton said authorities had a long history of being unable to control large industries like mining.

“Within the next few years Queensland will have up to 50,000 gas wells, many hundreds of kilometres of high-pressure gas pipelines as well as other dangerous infrastructure like compressor stations and LNG plants,” Mr Hutton said.

“We have also had, in the short life-span of the Queensland coal seam gas industry, a number of very worrying incidents like gas wells leaking to ignition point and pipelines breaking.”

Liquefied Natural Gas Limited chief executive Maurice Brand said gas pipelines from gas fields to an LNG plant are identical to all other gas pipelines that exist throughout.

“These are high pressure buried steel pipelines,” Mr Brand said.

“Pipelines can be damaged by earthquakes or by machinery, or can fail if not properly maintained. These events can cause a release of gas and sometimes a fire. Standards and regulations are put in place to minimise this risk.”

Pipelines are constructed under Australian Standards. Under these world-recognised standards, pipelines must be buried to depths greater than those likely to be reached by common land use. For example, in areas of deep ripping cultivation, the pipeline is buried below 1200mm.

A spokesperson for Santos GLNG project said their pipeline will meet or surpass all standards required.

“The pipeline easement will be clearly defined and marked, and there will be ongoing work and liaison with landholders to ensure awareness of pipeline safety.”



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