Natural Gas is a term to describe hydrocarbons (molecules of carbon hydrogen) which are formed naturally in rocks under the ground.
Coal Seam Gas (CSG) is a natural gas that is found absorbed into coal. This can be produced via the natural fractures or cleats of underground coal seams. When water is pumped from the coal seams the pressure is lowered and this allows the gas to desorb from the coal and flow into the well. CSG used for energy purposes is essentially the simplest form of hydrocarbon, methane.
CSG is used in the same way as natural gas from conventional sources (e.g. underground sandstone reservoirs) for cooking, heating, industrial applications and electricity generation. It also used as a feedstock for the manufacture of fertilizers.
Apart from an essential energy supply for Australia and the world, gas also has an important part in managing the effects of global warming due to greenhouse gas emissions. Using gas rather than coal as a fuel to generate electricity reduces greenhouse gas emissions by about 50% and also uses only a fraction of the water required.
Some other things to know about CSG:
- It is understood. It uses oil and gas production technology that has been used for more than 50 years in Australia and around the world.
- CSG has operated in Australia for over 20 years and provides more than 30% of the gas that is consumed on the eastern coast of Australia.
- The CSG industry uses international standards and is highly regulated.
- Methane is flammable but it does not smell and it is not toxic.
- Natural gas is formed from organic rich sediment that has been deposited in sedimentary basins and subject to heat and pressure for very long periods. It is also formed from decomposing organic matter in swamps and rivers, in rubbish dumps, from garden compost and from cattle and other animals.
- Numerous studies have been completed to demonstrate that CSG operations will not threaten water supplies. There are nearly 4000 CSG wells operating in Australia now, without any evidence of water contamination.
- CSG operations can and do exist with farming, and provide an economic benefit to regional communities.
- Natural gas plays a big role in the growth of renewables, too.
Metgasco’s website includes community presentations and material developed by Metgasco. Those who wish to read material prepared by other organisations and companies might wish to consider the following:
NSW Government: http://www.csg.nsw.gov.au
We want CSG: http://www.wewantcsg.com.au/
Australian Water Association: http://digitaledition.awa.asn.au/?xml=Water_Journal_Secure&iid=117849#folio=2
What is fracking?
Fracking is a technique that has been used for 60 years to increase the flow rate of oil or gas from a petroleum well. Many “conventional” wells produce oil and gas without being fracked. “Tight gas” and “unconventional gas” wells will usually require fracking. Only a small percentage of coal seam gas wells in Australia are fracked. To learn more about fracking, please look at the following website:
Readers might wish to view Truthland, a video about shale gas operations in the USA.
Also the June 2015 US EPA assessment (http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/hfstudy/recordisplay.cfm?deid=244651) provides a review and synthesis of available information concerning the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas on drinking water resources in the United States.
Readers are also encouraged to view Fracknation, and should contact Metgasco if they would like help obtaining a copy.
The World's Energy Needs
Readers who wish to learn about the world's energy needs, understand the challenges different forms of energy present and see where gas and renewables might fit into the world's long term energy supply, are encouraged to view a DVD titled "Switch". Switch is part of the Switch Energy Project, a film, web and educational effort designed to build a balanced national understanding of energy (http://www.switchenergyproject.com). The DVD is presented by Dr Scott Tinkler, Director of the Bureau of Geology. Metgasco has limited copies of the DVD which it can make available to members of the community.