In response to the opinion piece by Sky News’ Matt Cunningham in today’s Northern Territory News, Lock the Gate’s Naomi Hogan says:
“Criticising people who are asking the hard questions is not going to improve the fracking industry’s tattered reputation for callous disregard of community concerns.
“The recent methane bubbling of the Condamine River is bang in the middle of coal seam gas operations by Origin Energy in QLD.
“Origin Energy commissioned Norwest Corporation in 2014 to try and figure out why the river had started bubbling right near their coal seam gas exploration and production fields.
“The report found that coal seam gas exploration and production wells, and the depressurisation of the coal seams for CSG extraction were key possible causes of methane now bubbling out of the river.
“The report admits methane bubbles in the Condamine River were only reported from late 2011 and 2012.
“No scientific study has ruled out onshore gas activities from playing a key role in causing the bubbling methane in the Condamine.
“In fact, in 2017, the CSIRO put out a fact sheet that states unequivocally that coal seam gas is one of the three likely causes of the Condamine River bubbling, due to it causing reduced pressure in coal seams.”
The fact sheet specifies that bubbling in the Condamine may be caused by “CSG industry activity in production fields 5 to 6 km away which has reduced pressure in the coal seams leading to possible up-dip flow of gas into the network of fractures and thereby into the Condamine River”.
"A 2017 report by the Melbourne Energy Institute also identified the effects of CSG extraction as one potential cause for the recent intense bubbling observed in the Condamine.
"The report notes that the bubbling did not seem to have any historical precedent, which matches with the advice we have received from landholders in the area.
“Even the gas industry admits that the coal seam gas activities around the Condamine River are a plausible cause for the methane bubbling in the Condamine.
The Lock the Gate Alliance has written to the NT News for a right of reply to address the claims.
“I do agree with one statement Matt Cunningham made today. The bubbling of the Condamine River is a tragedy indeed.
“Far more care is needed with the river systems of the Northern Territory in the face pressure from the onshore gas industry,” she said.
Norwest Report for Origin, summary pages with dates that methane bubbling was reported: https://www.aplng.com.au/content/dam/aplng/reports/2014/2_Norwest_Report_Ch1-3_Introduction_-_Objectives_-_Project_Area.pdf
CSIRO 2017 Fact Sheet: Methane Seeps in the Condamine River
Melbourne Energy Institute 2017 The Risk of Migratory Methane Emissions from the Development of Queensland Coal Seam Gas.
Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance, funding and budget, see page 8: https://gisera.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Annual-Research-Development-Plan-and-Budget-2016-17-1.pdf