Frequently asked questions.
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Fracture stimulation or ‘fraccing’:
A clean, safe way to extract coal seam gas
What is fraccing?
Fracture stimulation, hydraulic fracturing or ‘fraccing’ is a process used to stimulate or fracture underground coal seams to increase the flow of gas and water. A fluid called ‘frac fluid’ or ‘fraccing fluid’, comprised of water, sand and a small amount of additives, is pumped down the well bore into an isolated section of the well at high pressure to fracture the coal seam. The sand holds the fracture open to provide a pathway for the gas and water to flow to the gas well for extraction.
How safe is fraccing?
At Origin, our fraccing fluids are comprised of an average 98.8% of water and sand, and 0.33 to 1.2% of additives (depending on the water source). The additives are not considered harmful in the diluted and small amounts in which we use them.
To restrict frac fluids and gas from entering surrounding aquifers, we follow rigid design standards and confirm the well integrity prior to fraccing. All wells have steel casing and a wellhead system designed specifically to manage the fraccing process. Fraccing is designed to only fracture the coal seam, and the casing is cemented to form a barrier between the coal seams and any other permeable zones to mitigate cross-contamination of the fluids into surrounding aquifers.
Why do we use fraccing?
Fraccing enables a more effective release of gas and water from underground gas reservoirs and also increases the drainage area of the well. With potentially more gas produced from each well through the process, it means fewer wells need to be drilled to retrieve the same amount of gas, significantly reducing the overall environmental impact of CSG operations.
What sorts of chemicals are used in gel fracs?
Most of the additives are commonly occurring and can be found in many household products. For a breakdown of the additives used, and for more information on fraccing, check out the fraccing factsheet.
Does Australia Pacific LNG/Origin use BTEX in its fraccing operations?
Australia Pacific LNG does not use BTEX in its fracture fluids and the supplier has confirmed that the fluids do not contain BTEX.
Is there any threat to human or stock health?
Water produced from the relevant wells is contained in lined and fenced ponds and tanks for treating, as per normal operational practice. It is isolated from water courses and livestock.
Material Safety Data Sheets
What is a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS)?
The additives used in fraccing fluid are contained in Material Safety Data Sheets or an MSDS. An MSDS lists these additives or chemicals, a description of them in their purest form along with the potential effects when used in this form, and precautions for the safe handling of them.
These sheets are used by companies to safely manage any risk associated with the use of these substances.
An MSDS needs to be interpreted properly by putting it in the context or situation in which a particular substance is used. That is, our fraccing fluid consists of about 98.8% water & sand and 1.2% of these additives or chemicals in total.
These chemicals are not considered harmful in the diluted and small amounts in which we use them.
Refer to our fact sheet about fraccing for details on how much of each substance or chemical is used.
View Material Safety Data Sheets
What is Origin doing with the water that comes up?
Water is produced during coal seam gas extraction activities. This is because the water traps the gas in coal seams, which needs to be pumped out in order to release the gas. The quality of this water differs from region to region, however it’s not suitable for consumption or use in agriculture without some treatment due to its high salt content.
We are leading the way in responsible water management. In 2007, we invested $20 million in a state-of-the-art desalination water treatment plant at Spring Gully, which was the first of its kind in Australia. It uses cutting edge water management and treatment technology to purify and desalinate up to 12 million litres of water per day.
Water is far too valuable to let go to waste. That’s why we’re committed to working with local communities to look at possible uses for this treated water. Options for water use being investigated include:
- Irrigation of agricultural crops
- Urban and industrial uses
- Discharge of interim or occasional surpluses of treated water into local river systems
- Reinjection into suitable underground aquifers
What are the potential uses for CSG water?
- An exciting project we’re trialling is using treated water to irrigate a Pongamia plantation – a type of legume that can be used as cattle feed and can also be processed to make bio-fuel.
- We’re currently developing a trial to test re-injecting the treated water we have extracted back into the ground.
- We will be participating in studies into the long-term sustainable water supply options for the region and offering support to programs for water conservation within the region.
- We will be offering our landowners near the water pipeline network the opportunity to access water on commercial terms, subject to availability and relevant approvals.
Are the water aquifers being drained?
Australia Pacific LNG, on behalf of Origin has developed a groundwater monitoring model in conjunction with the Queensland Government. It is the first of its kind to be used in Queensland, and will form the basis for future independent modelling of water aquifers in the Surat Basin.
Origin has undertaken significant modelling of projected groundwater impact for both its own project and the CSG industry. We note that the significant majority of bores in the CSG development area do not take supply from these aquifers. If there is an impact detected, we will fulfil our responsibilities under the Petroleum and Gas Act to investigate and make good the impacts. It is important to note that the CSG industry will not be the largest producer/user of water from aquifers in the project area.
Facts on water aquifers:
Avg Max Per Day
Avg Max Per Year
CSG water from coal seams (based on peak levels in 2026)
Agricultural regional average use of surface water
Agricultural estimated use of ground water
Gross average CSG water production across 30 year project life
Note: There are currently 13,213 licensed agricultural bores accessing the Walloons.
What is happening with the salt extracted?
We intend to undertake a number of trials to provide appropriate disposal methods for salt produced as part of the CSG extraction process. Australia Pacific LNG is currently investigating the concentration and crystallisation of salts from the brine to be sold commercially for industrial purposes.
How will Origin prevent the spread of noxious weeds when going from one property to another?
Before we start work on any property, we undertake environmental assessments to identify any site-specific weed management requirements. Origin has well established procedures in place for managing weed transfer risks, including vehicle hygiene declarations, trained staff, vehicle inspections and monitoring. We work together with landowners to ensure we protect environmental and land values.
Also, on behalf of Australia Pacific LNG, Origin has pledged to develop weed management guidelines to minimise the spread of weeds throughout the study area, as well as controlling and eradicating new weed infestations. This will be achieved by working with regional councils in weed control, and constructing weed wash down facilities near Miles and in the Banana Shire to support gas field and pipeline construction and operations for everyone in the community to use.
Will good quality agricultural land be affected by your operations?
We have conducted studies into land use and determined that the overall impact on good quality agricultural land (GQAL) from the Australia Pacific LNG Project will be minimal after construction has been completed.
It is estimated that the full development of the proposed gas fields’ facilities may initially disturb some 23,726ha of GQAL as a result of initial construction activity.
Following the completion of construction and associated rehabilitation activities, it is estimated that the ultimate development of the gas fields will remove from potential agricultural production in the order of 4,319ha of GQAL or for the operational life of the facilities concerned.
It is estimated that the construction of the gas pipeline will disturb approximately 1,000ha of GQAL, and following the completion of construction and associated rehabilitation activities, approximately 31ha of GQAL will be removed from potential agricultural production during our operations.
Afterwards it will be available for farming once more. Given that much of the land impacted by the gas fields’ and pipeline infrastructure will revert mostly to its original use once operational, the economic impact associated with the change in land use is anticipated to be minimal.
Is my land covered by a petroleum authority?
There are many different types of petroleum authority. The Queensland Government has specific information capturing all petroleum authorities held over land within the state. If you are not already aware of whether your land is covered by a petroleum authority we recommend you view the State Government website.
Or contact the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation directly as follows:
- Free Call: 1800 657 567 (toll-free within Australia)
- Phone: +61 7 3898 0375
- Fax: +61 7 3238 3088
Email Queensland Mines and Energy (QME) with your questions or feedback using the online enquiry form or send your email to email@example.com Remember, just because you are not in the area of an Australia Pacific LNG petroleum authority does not mean you may not be in the area of a petroleum authority held by another company. Make sure you check the available information to find out.
What is a Cultural Heritage Management Plan?
A Cultural Heritage Management Plan is undertaken by proponents such as Australia Pacific LNG to assess any potential impact on Aboriginal cultural heritage by any projected work associated with a project.
All about gas
What is coal seam gas?
As the name suggests – coal seam gas (often referred to as CSG) is formed and stored naturally within coal deposits. It forms as a thin film on the surface of the coal. Coal seams are naturally filled with water and the water pressure keeps the gas in place. Coal seam gas is generally 95-97% pure methane.
What are gas flares?
As part of gas exploration, pilot wells are drilled to see how much gas is underground and how easy it is to bring to the surface. These wells are brought into production for a period of time to test this and demonstrate whether the area is commercially viable. Because pilot wells are not connected to any pipeline infrastructure back to a gas processing facility, the gas produced during this testing period is ignited or ‘flared’ in industry language.
Being mostly methane, CSG is clean burning and this greatly reduces the greenhouse gas impact of venting directly into the atmosphere. As the gas begins to flow, so does the amount and visibility of flaring. The flame also burns continuously and can vary from being barely visible to up to a couple of metres, particularly at night. All pilot testing work, including flaring, is managed in a controlled way and is subject to strict regulation and government approval.
What is liquefied natural gas?
Put simply, liquefied natural gas (often referred to as LNG) is a natural gas which has been cooled to minus 161°C, at which point it condenses into liquid. With the volume of gas reducing to 1/600th of its original size, it means a much greater volume of LNG is able to be stored and transported than natural gas which has not been condensed, due to it taking up so much less space.
As an example of how efficiently LNG uses space – think of a 43cm beach ball being reduced to the size of a ping pong ball. The condensing of the gas to such an extent allows it to be shipped much more economically to markets throughout the world.
How is CSG different to conventional gas?
The main difference between CSG and other natural gas is how it occurs in nature. Whilst CSG is stored by the gas forming a thin film on the surface of the coal, in conventional reservoirs such as sandstones, gas is stored within pore spaces between individual sand grains in a sandstone reservoir. Wells drilled to extract CSG are generally smaller and easier to move.
How is CSG different to UCG? There’s been some commentary recently confusing the Coal Seam Gas (CSG) industry on the Western Downs with the trial Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) projects.
It’s something we’d like to clear up because CSG production is completely different to UCG – from extraction methods and processes through to the output.
Not only that, CSG is an established source of energy that we already use for domestic heating and cooking, as well as for electricity generation to power our homes and businesses.
Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) is a process of the gasification and combustion of coal that actually burns coal under the ground to create a synthetic gas called Syngas – a combination of hydrogen, methane, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide.
Coal Seam Gas (CSG), on the other hand, is natural gas that’s trapped in the cleats or fractures in some coal seams by water. All we basically do is pump out some of the water to reduce pressure to release it. There is no burning and no artificial conversion of the coal into gas.
Could any reported UCG incidents happen with CSG?
Origin and Australia Pacific LNG have no involvement in any Underground Coal Gasification projects. Our operations are in Coal Seam Gas.
It is simply incorrect to draw any comparisons between the CSG industry and the UCG pilot projects – including any assumptions of possible environmental impacts.
We are committed to the long term management of both natural gas and water resources.
Like more information?
We’re happy to discuss any questions you may have about CSG extraction. Just drop into your local Origin office or call us on1800 526 369.
What is the Australia Pacific LNG Project?
The Australia Pacific LNG Project (often referred to as Australia Pacific LNG) is a proposed coal seam gas (CSG) to liquefied natural gas (LNG) development project, enabling the creation of a world-class, long-term industry in Queensland by developing the largest coal seam gas reserves in Australia.
Will Australia Pacific LNG contact me if they are going to do any work on my land?
Yes. Australia Pacific LNG will not undertake any work on your land without first contacting you, no matter how minor.
How long will the Project take/be around?
The Australia Pacific LNG Project is a long-term investment and project providing a new industry and many benefits to Queensland. The Project is aiming to deliver 500 gas-producing wells per year over a 30 year period.
What does the Project actually involve?
The Australia Pacific LNG Project (often referred to as Australia Pacific LNG) involves four main developments or phases:
- 1. Further development and extraction of gas from existing gas fields
- 2. The construction of a pipeline to transfer the gas from the gas fields to the gas processing plant. The pipeline will be approximately 530km long
- 3. The construction of liquefied natural gas (LNG) processing trains (plants) where the gas is liquefied (cooled to -161°C which condenses the gas)
- 4. The construction of associated facilities to export the gas to international markets via LNG ships
What potential benefits will the Project provide?
The Australia Pacific LNG Project will generate significant benefits at regional, state and national levels, including:
- Creation of up to 4,000 to 5,000 direct jobs during the peak construction phase of the gas fields, gas pipeline and LNG plant
- Creation of 1,000 direct ongoing jobs during the operation of the Project
- Expenditure in regional economies through the purchase and use of local resources, where practicable, for the construction and operation of the plant
- Significant contribution to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions
- Billions of dollars in capital investment through to 2020
- Creation of a new, long-term gas processing and export industry in Queensland
- Generation of Queensland and Commonwealth Government revenue over the life of the Project
Is all the gas produced by Origin and Australia Pacific LNG going to the export market?
No, in fact gas from Origin and Australia Pacific LNG’s existing gas fields provides more than 40% of Queensland’s domestic gas supplies. This includes supplying gas to a number of power stations, including Origin’s Roma Power Station and Darling Downs Power Station near Dalby.
Can you please provide more information on compensation??
We understand that our long-term success relies on building a strong, sustainable working relationship with the people whose properties we operate on. And compensating them fairly is an important part of that.
Compensation is ongoing, providing a continuous return during the life of our operations. It’s deemed “fair value” and above cropping value of land impacted. There is confidentiality of all agreements with landowners.
All landowners receive a dedicated on-the-ground Landowner Relations Advisor who is able to provide detail on their possible compensation package.