This isn’t a “fun” post, but you do come here to read about what it’s really like to live in Australia, don’t you? Well, this is part of what it’s really like…
Usually when I write posts here on BobinOz it’s to offer information, to inform people about life in Australia. But with today’s post I am looking for information, I am asking for more knowledge and I am encouraging you all to give me your opinions.
Because today’s post is about coal seam gas (CSG) in Australia.
So, what do I know about CSG?
Well, this morning when I woke up, I knew virtually nothing. What I did know about it, I could have written on the back of a postage stamp.
It would have read “CSG stands for coal seam gas, and lots of people don’t like it.”
Since I’ve lived here, the rumblings about coal seam gas have been getting louder and more frequent and the protests have become stronger. So I decided it was time I knew more.
Since waking up then, I have spent a couple of hours searching Google, reading about CSG and writing this post. So, here’s what I now think I know…
- Coal seam gas is actually methane gas found in coal seams.
- It is extracted from coal deposits that are too deep to mine economically.
- These coal seams need to be stimulated by hydraulic fracturing known as fracking.
- This process appears (I think) to use a lot of water, much of which comes out the other end contaminated and needs to be taken away by trucks to be disposed of safely.
- The scale and speed of growth of the CSG industry in the past decade has been described as astonishing.
- Australia could end up with as many as 40,000 coal seam gas wells.
- These wells could draw up to 300 gigalitres of water from the ground each year!
The alleged problems:
- CSG mining is an expensive process, so all equipment has to run 24 hours a day, including those transport vehicles.
- Wells can be drilled within 200 metres of houses under some licenses.
- These wells can and do leak methane into the environment and it has been known to get into the domestic water supply.
- Methane is highly explosive and a fire hazard.
- The huge amounts of water required can lead to major water shortages.
- Each well requires a 1 hectare slab of concrete around it with a security fence.
That’s just a few of them; I’ve hardly scratched the surface.
Where is all this coal seam gas?
My map isn’t interactive, it’s just a picture. You can check out the full interactive map and find the source of some of my information on this page: ABC CSG Map.
I decided to use their excellent interactive map to see if there was any CSG activity near where I live. Guess what? There was something going on about 10 minutes from my house, in a suburb called Moggill.
Coal seam gas in Moggill? A sleepy suburb of Brisbane?
Let me make it clear; there is no “well” there, but a company called Arrow Energy does have a coal seam gas exploration permit granted for a huge area covering Brisbane’s Western suburbs. The permit last until 2018.
I went to the precise spot that was pinpointed on the ABC interactive map, and this could possibly be the site….
A spokeswoman for Arrow Energy, which is co-owned by multinational corporations PetroChina and Shell, says it has no intention of using the permit.
“There has been no exploration for gas in the suburbs of Brisbane, and Arrow has no intention to do so,” she said in an email statement a couple of months ago.
Oh, that’s okay then. Erm, just one question. Why did you get the permit then?
Source: 9 News
They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing and I certainly only have a little knowledge about coal seam gas. But coal seam gas, to me, seems to be a dangerous thing.
It could well be that out of all the scary things in Australia that I’ve ever written about, this might just be the scariest.
Lock the Gate Alliance Inc.
Much of my information came from Lock the Gate; I’ll give you a couple of links to their website in a minute. But first, why is it called lock the gate?
They say the problems start when you allow representatives of these companies to access your property. They say the only way to stop them is to lock the gate, don’t let them in, put up a “No Trespassers” sign, don’t let them charm you.
As they say on their website, a typical ploy of these companies would be to say “We have no plan to…”
Oh dear! Isn’t that what the spokeswoman said about exploration in Moggill?
Finally, I invite you to watch this short video clip which will give you a good idea of the scale of the battle we have on our hands. There is a reference in the video to 1979 and Terania Creek in New South Wales.
That was a rainforest war, protesters looking to prevent loggers from destroying more trees. Today’s battle is about saving our water and, says the film, ultimately our lives…
There you have it. As I’ve already said, my knowledge of CSG is very limited. To be more precise, it’s limited to 2 hours research, but I’ve already learned enough to put this into my Australia’s bad things category.
Am I right to do that? My questions to you are…
Coal seam gas, should we really be that scared? Is it an Australian bad thing? Let’s have a debate in the comments below….
From the comments so far below, it has become clear that coal seam gas is an Australian bad thing. Only one person has defended CSG, and he works in industry.
A leading campaigner against CSG who has joined this debate is Heidi Ross. I am grateful to Heidi for her contribution and also for a link she has posted in the comments to a YouTube video.
She says the video gives her “goosebumps every time – it’s heartwarming and inspiring”. It certainly is inspiring and did give me goosebumps too; between you and I, I welled up a bit.
It’s that powerful, I have decided to embed the video in this post.
In video I have posted above, towards the end, the captions say….
“Our government has betrayed us,
the deals are done.
The only defence we have now…
…IS THE PEOPLE.
Well, the people of Keerrong and The Channon, which is just 50 km or so West of New South Wales’ second most popular tourist destination, Byron Bay, are fighting back and it is indeed inspiring.
If they can fight back, so can we all…