The coal seam gas (CSG) industry is a rapidly expanding resource industry in Queensland located primarily in the Surat, Bowen and Galilee Basins. CSG is a gas mainly consisting of methane that is typically attached to the coal cleats and held in water pressurised coal seams that formed over millions of years during the conversion of organic material (vegetation, forests etc.) to coal. In the Surat Basin the CSG target area is the Walloon Coal Measures, which are typically between 300m-900m underground while coal seams in the Bowen and Galilee Basins can be up to 1250m deep.
>> What is involved in CSG extraction and production?
CSG involves drilling into the coal seams and pumping out water and gas. Once the water and gas are brought to the surface, a separator directs the gas to a central processing facility through a gathering system and the water is generally sent into a holding dam onsite temporarily to determine quality before directed to a central facility for processing or treatment. Most of the gas will eventually be pumped to liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities being built at Gladstone for export.
>> How do resource companies have the right to come onto my property when I own the land?
You will need to check your property deed/title for specific conditions, however generally most Queensland deeds/titles contain a clause stating that all minerals and resources found under the surface of the earth remain the property of all Queensland people and that the Queensland Government reserves the rights to manage these for the benefit of all Queenslanders. Once a resource company has met certain legislative requirements, the Government provides authority to that company to extract the resource.
>> What approvals must a CSG company obtain?
Before a gas company can obtain a permit for exploration or production of CSG, environmental and rehabilitation performance requirements are set as conditions that must be addressed, one such permit is an Environmental Authority (EA) from the Queensland Government. The EA defines what authorised activities (drilling wells, building pipelines, dams etc.) a resource company can carry out under Queensland legislation. To obtain this authority a resource company must submit (depending on the project classification) an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) and/or Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (DEHP), the Department of Natural Resources and Mines and any other applicable departments. The EMP or EIS must address the social, physical and environmental effects of the project and how these will be managed and minimised.
Once these conditions have been addressed, approval granted and a company has used reasonable endeavours to negotiate with the landholder, it is an offence for the landholder to obstruct a resource company from carrying out its authorised activity without a reasonable excuse.
>> Is there a code of conduct the resource company must abide by?
Amendments to Queensland legislation regarding land access were introduced in October
2010. The changes include the introduction of the Land Access Code (LAC), which sets out mandatory conduct provisions dealing with activity on private land and best practice guidelines for communication between landholders and resource companies.
Resource companies now have an obligation to consult with the owners and occupiers of land about access arrangements, proposed activities and the compensation liability. Legislation states that resource companies conducting their authorised activities must not unreasonably interfere with a landholder’s lawful activities.
The CSG Project is delivered by AgForce Projects with the support of the Queensland Government, the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, Queensland Resources Council and the GasFields Commission Queensland.