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Origin’s Condamine methane bubble claims don’t hold water

Lock the Gate Alliance is calling on Origin Energy to publicly disclose the location of all known Condamine River methane “seeps” and to reveal what it is doing to report how much additional fugitive methane its gas activities are releasing into the atmosphere.

The company made unsubstantiated claims in the media at the weekend that it already knew about a seep located one kilometre further east than those originally identified in 2012.

The claim was made after the release of a video (available here, password: lockthegate), which shows the Condamine “bubbling like a boiling broth” at the new location.

Origin’s most recent publicly available report into Condamine River seeps appears to have been released in 2014, and identifies four seep locations, however all are well west of the seep identified in the video.

A hydrologist report to the Queensland Palaszczuk Government in 2021 found nearby CSG activity had ‘enhanced’ the amount of methane escaping in the area. 

From p 26/29 of the report: 

While the seeps are a natural system, the gas escape is enhanced by down-dip CSG production, which is approximately 1km away. The Condamine seeps were mitigated by reducing the pressure in the underlying traps through gas production combined with increased CSG production to capture more of the gas (APLNG, 2021). The seeps do however highlight that migrated free gas may not necessarily be reabsorbed onto the coal quicker than the rate at which it migrates."

Lock the Gate Alliance Queensland Coordinator Ellie Smith said, “Methane is an extremely powerful greenhouse gas, up to 84 times more potent than CO2.

“Fugitive methane due to fossil fuel extraction poses major problems for humanity as we attempt to mitigate the climate crisis. Origin needs to come clean and reveal the extent of the problem publicly.

“If Origin knew about this extremely vigorous seep since 2015, yet kept it quiet until it was suddenly inconvenient, then the company needs to explain why, and what it has been doing to report and mitigate the methane that is escaping.

“Small methane bubbles are a naturally occurring phenomenon on the Condamine - but what we’ve seen in this video is not natural. This methane is surging to the surface thanks to the rapid and unrestrained drilling of coal seam gas wells throughout the Darling Downs.”


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