Minister plays catch-up

THE Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy Stephen Robertson is still playing catch-up when it comes to the exploration industries.

Every month concern has grown within the community from the Surat Basin to Gladstone about practices within the coal seas gas (CSG) and underground coal gasification (UGG) processes.

From leaking wells to the type of chemicals and the amount of compliance officers, Minister Robertson probably wishes he had read the fine print before he took on the role.

Now it would seem that the Minister heard the public concerns, with the Queensland Government announcing yesterday that they have moved to ban petroleum compounds containing benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes, commonly referred to as B-TEX, from use in coal seam gas (CSG) operations or ‘fraccing’.

“Our number one priority is the health and safety of the community and the environment,” Mr Robertson said.

“We want to make sure we strike the right balance between environmental sustainability and economic growth.

“I have already sought and received assurances from industry that these chemicals are not currently being used.”

Representatives of the CSG industry, the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association’s supports moves by the State to ban benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes (BTEX) in fraccing operations.

Queensland Director, Matthew Paull, said: “Hydraulic fracturing (fraccing) is a safe technology and CSG operations should not be confused with underground coal gasification.

“These are completely different technologies that produce very different environmental outcomes.”

CSG extraction has been used commercially for decades and involves the removal of water from coal seams so that gas can flow.

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