CSG company hoses aquifer fears

Arrow senior project engineer Rainer Hagedorn keeps an eye on things at the Moranbah Gas Project’s reverse osmosis water treatment plant.
Arrow senior project engineer Rainer Hagedorn keeps an eye on things at the Moranbah Gas Project’s reverse osmosis water treatment plant.

THE coal seam gas company that hopes to install 7000 new wells in the Isaac and Central Highlands regions says the public has nothing to fear about its operations and effect on underground water.

Arrow Energy is seeking approvals for its Bowen Gas Project, which spans the distance from Glenden to Blackwater.

The proposal is just an arm of its larger liquid natural gas project, which aims to pipe CSG from the Bowen and

Surat Basins to Curtis Island before converting the gas and shipping it overseas.

The ambitious development requires five Environmental Impact Statements to be submitted to government, with one relating wholly to the BGP.

Opponents of the industry cite water as a major concern, which Arrow chief executive Andrew Faulkner acknowledged and addressed to "dispel the myths".

"I think a lack of knowledge is to blame for the apprehension surrounding coal seam gas … that's as much our fault as it is anybody else's," Mr Faulkner said.

"Australia has a fantastic farming history that will hopefully last for thousands of more years so clearly they are worried about the impact."

In terms of water, the questions most asked of CSG companies are what it will do with the water it extracts from underground coal seams - which loosens the gas - and how does it know its operations are not affecting underground sweet water aquifers, a vital part of agricultural productions.

Firstly, Mr Faulkner said, Arrow Energy treated all the water it extracted from a coal seam, the result being that 80% of it could be used "for pretty much anything".

He said research was being conducted into what the residual 20% - which is effectively brine - could be used for.

"There's much less water in the Bowen Basin than the Surat. The issues surrounding water are very different up here and much less significant," Mr Faulkner said.

"(Another) particular concern is that when we dewater a coal seam, over decades that will refill and it will drain from the sweet water aquifers in some way, shape or form and undermine (farmers).

"Firstly, the amount of water we produce relative to the amount of water taken out by farmers is a tiny fraction. It's literally just a couple of per cent in equivalent."

He said Arrow was keen to enter into substitution of allocation agreements with landholders.

"We bring it up, treat it and then provide it to the farmers and they do not pull from the sweet water aquifers," Mr Faulkner said.

So effectively you are allowing the sweet water aquifers to recharge because they do not have to pull it out themselves."

Arrow was also looking at possibly providing its treated water to coal companies, SunWater, and even Isaac Regional Council.

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