CSG is not UCG

August 27th, 2015

One of the favored tactics of anti-industry activists and fossil fuel opponents is to try and confuse and mislead by distorting facts.

And so it is that NSW Upper House member Jeremy Buckingham, the self-described ‘troublemaking Country Greens MP’, has tried to tie together two separate processes as part of his ongoing campaign to shut down the State’s gas industry.

Mr Buckingham lodged the following ‘Notice of Motion’ in early August:

“1. That this House notes that:

(a) a study commissioned by Queensland’s Environment Department has found that gases released by Linc Energy’s activities at its underground coal gasification plant at Hopeland have caused the permanent acidification of the soil near the site and left up to 310 square kilometres of prime agricultural land in southeast Queensland at risk from a cocktail of toxic chemicals and explosive gases

(b) the Environment Department alleges Linc Energy is responsible for ‘gross interference’ to the health and wellbeing of former workers at the plant as well as ‘serious environmental harm’,

(c) according to the report ‘the degree of contamination is widespread, of high impact and, in part, irreversible’

(d) this has occurred because Linc Energy injected air into the coal seam, consequently fractured the coal seam and allowed gas, wastes and contaminants to permeate the groundwater and soil, and

(e) the report states that there are ‘no other activities or factors with an evident and intelligible justification for the levels of contaminants encountered, and that ‘because the landform had been fractured so much, the groundwater regime irreversibly changed’.

 2. That this House calls on the Government to:

(a) recognise that the risks to land and water of fracking are too great to allow the coal seam gas industry to proceed in New South Wales, and

(b) ban fracking in New South Wales, effective immediately.

Unfortunately, as is often the case, facts get in the way of the argument presented.

Underground coal gasification and coal seam gas development are two completely separate and unrelated techniques, and to conflate the two is deliberately disingenuous.

As this information sheet helpfully points out:

“Coal seam and shale gas are found in different types of geological systems. Coal seam gas is found in systems containing coal and the gas is contained within fine structures and fractures in the coal. Shale gas is generally extracted from clay-rich sedimentary rock and the gas is either contained within fine structures in the rock or can exist as gas bubbles in the pores of the rock. Tight gas exist in rock pores that have very low permeability and can only migrate through it with great difficulty.

UCG occurs where gas is not readily available, but can be created by the combustion of coal to make a synthetic gas, which is commonly known as syngas and is made up of carbon monoxide, hydrogen and methane. The conversion of coal into synthetic gas takes place underground, where the coal was originally found.”

This is yet another attempt by the Greens to muddy the waters on CSG development in New South Wales.

It’s time for the discussion to return to facts, not fear and misleading statements like this Notice of Motion.

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