Coal Seam Methane Exploration at Broke Township


Monday, 2-March-2009. BROKE COMMUNITY UPDATE Sydney Gas advised HBGAG by an official email ( view or download PDF) that two drilling rigs will arrive at their Broke site on Monday, 9 March, 2009 to commence drilling of test water bores. An exact copy of the aerial image of the proposed drilling site follows:

This aerial photograph shows clearly the position of the existing test bores in relation to the Broke township. Unfortunately, the SGL document failed to give any detailed description of the methodology and procedures of the proposed study. What results they hope to achieve and what is their significance. All we have learned is that they will drill some water bores and presumably the level of the ground water in them. Once again, SGL failed to communicate properly with the local residence. We do not need these generalities, as everyone knows, the devil is in the detail. All we can see is that SGL operations are too close for comfort.

In their document ( view or download PDF) SGL claimed that this operation is taking place "following consultation with the Bulga Community Consultative Committee (BCCC)". In fact, there was not all that much consultation, since the BCCC meeting scheduled for February, 2009 was postponed at the SGL's request. As outlined in our Gas Watch 61, 62 and 63 we are not comfortable with this operation and almost all of our questions to SGL remain unanswered.

There are hundreds of horror stories from overseas where methane gas exploration went wrong (see e.g. Journey of the FORSAKEN. ) Many times people's lives, their health, homes, land and fresh water were destroyed in the process of the extraction of methane. We simply cannot understand why SGL insists on going with their coal seam methane exploration so close to our township and river,

Finally, why we are so worried about hydraulic fracturing or fraccing ? The answer is that our research has shown that this powerful technology is behind most serious environmental problems associated with the extraction of the coal seam methane and conventional or non-conventional natural gas in general. Yet the economics of the most gas projects is largely determined by the success of the hydraulic fracturing. In fact, many methane gas deposits today, including most CBM/CSM projects, would no be profitable without it. The fraccing operation involves pumping of huge quantities of a mixture of water, fine sand (proppant) and proprietary chemicals into a completed gas well under enormous pressure. This expands existing or creates new cracks (cleats) in the coal seams and surrounding geological strata. Once the pressure is released, the proppant particles stay in the cleats and thus prevent their closing. This improves the gas flows and makes the operation more profitable.

Unfortunately, there is a downside. The fraccing process uses huge quantities of water which then becomes toxic and difficult to dispose off. Typically, anything like 30 to 60 % of the fraccing fluid stays in the geological strata and may escape through any existing or new fractures and contaminate surface groundwater. Methane gas may also escape to the surface in the same way and cause harm to residents and/or vegetation. Nobody could seriously guarantee that these problems will not occur in the future on a particular site.


Wednesday, 20 August, 2008. Sydney Gas proposed to flare methane gas test wells less then 300 meters from the Broke primary school!