gas mining in the inner west, sydney

there have been reports in the paper recently that St Peters is going to be mined for gas

update 07/12/2010 *** : I attended the public meeting in Petersham last night - here are my notes ***

from what I've read online (newspaper articles) it seems that the St Peters gas drilling won't use fracking techniques - hydraulic fracturing (with the chemicals) but still, City of Sydney & Cr. Clover Moore allowed it to go through - correction 29/11/2010 Kristina Keneally's office approved the exploratory drilling via Clover Moore's tweet in reply to Sophie Loizou's question : @CloverMoore : @sofieloizou @cityofsydney has no role in approving or assessing exploration licenses. See my question in Parliament: http://bit.ly/httJL5

exploration starts early 2011 (according to this special report from Sun Herald).

if it isn't bad enough to be drilling in the city, the scary thing (I think) is that they *do* use fracking techniques when drilling in the country areas close to the dams in most states. this could have huge impact in contaminating our water supplies, which as we know are very precious (luckily we've had rain this year so many dams are full)

also I don't recall receiving any notices about this in leaflet drops - a city of sydney one arrived this week, I'll have another read to see if it's mentioned. if the greens hadn't asked for more info I'm not sure anyone would have known about this??

there's a film called Gasland showing at these cinemas which shows the practice of fracking in the USA. I'm going to see this on the weekend.

on the Greens website there's a couple of articles and a petition. I think people need to be made aware of what's happening. I know I'd like to know more of the details of what's involved & impacts etc.

Greens MP Cate Faehrmann has some info on the sydney (& nsw) gas drilling if you want to find out more http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cate-Faehrmann/125981310754146 - 'fracking' seems to be happening in other parts of Aus too - disturbingly close to our water supplies/dams. what's that song? "Australia, don't become America"

Saving our trees blog has a notice for a public town meeting to discuss this. there's also a facebook event page

Gas drilling in the Inner West – Public meeting
facebook event page

* Monday 6th December 2010
* 6pm
* Petersham Town Hall
* Speakers Cate Faerhmann MLC & Marrickville Mayor Fiona Byrne

some articles in the paper:

Toxins found at third site as fracking fears build - November 19, 2010

The practice of fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, involves injecting a mix of water, sand and chemicals underground to force gas to the surface.

Environmental and farming groups have questioned the safety of the technique after reports from the US suggesting fracking chemicals, including BTEX, have contaminated drinking water supplies.

Coal seam gas companies and the industry body the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association say fracking has never been known to contaminate drinking water.

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Mine threatens city water

THE company about to start coal seam gas drilling around southern Sydney and the Illawarra plans to use the controversial ''fracking'' technique to mine directly beside Warragamba Dam, which holds much of the city's drinking water


image via sydney morning herald article

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Fracking hell: Busting the natural gas myth

(American theatre director Josh) Fox found that, across the US, there are more than 500,000 natural gas wells, many of them on private property and many of them tapped using a process called ‘‘hydraulic fracturing’’, or ‘‘fracking’’, as it is colloquially known. In this, a hole is drilled hundreds of metres down and a mix of highly toxic chemicals and water is pumped down that hole under pressure, forcing the rock base to crack, thereby releasing the natural gas trapped in it.

The problem is, about one-third of the water mix stays below ground, and in many of the sites Fox visits in his documentary, this residue has leached into the water supply, as has the gas itself. Where that’s happened, people can’t drink the water that comes out of their taps any more; in some cases there’s so much gas coming out they can set their water alight.

‘‘This is a huge issue because once you’ve contaminated an aquifer you can’t go back,’’ says Fox, who has been in Australia to promote his film, Gasland. ‘‘It’s almost impossible to clean an aquifer, so your standard for drinking water should be ‘no risk’. Not ‘risk balanced with energy’, or ‘risk balanced with industry’, just ‘no risk’. Period.’’

...

‘‘ ‘Clean-burning natural gas’ is not a fact, it’s a slogan,’’ he says. Methane, a key component of the gas produced, is up to 72 times more potent a greenhouse gas than CO2, and it is emitted all along the production path as well as when it is burnt.

‘‘So when you burn the gas, sure, it’s cleaner than burning coal. But when you look at the life-cycle of developing it, you’re on a par with some of our dirtiest fossil fuels.

‘‘They’re trying to say natural gas will save the world, when in fact it’s the opposite: natural gas is trying to destroy renewable energy by being its principal competition. This is fossil fuel, and fossil fuel is of the last century. This century’s job is to make sure that’s not what we’re dependent on going forward.’’

GASLAND - official trailer - in cinemas November 18 (AUSTRALIA)

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Save Liverpool Plains extended story youtube video

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Sun Herald exclusive report – Sydney’s secret power grab – coal seam gas drilling planned for inner-city Sydney suburb of St Peters

SYDNEY’S central business district will be powered by gas mined from below the city under an audacious plan being considered by the City of Sydney and lord mayor Clover Moore.

The NSW government has granted approval for gas miner Macquarie Energy to begin drilling a test well in the inner-west suburb of St Peters to explore for coal-seam methane gas.

According to government documents obtained by The Sun-Herald, Macquarie received permission in March to embark on drilling for the purpose of supplying gas to the City of Sydney’s trigeneration scheme.

Cr Moore wants to take the city off the state’s coal-fired electricity grid by 2030 by establishing a network of gas-fired engines in a system known as trigeneration.

The plan to extract ”indigenous” gas from under Australia’s most populated area of land is being kept a closely guarded secret, with inner-west residents completely unaware of the prospect of a gas mine in their neighbourhood. Not even the Greens-led Marrickville Council, covering parts of St Peters, was aware of the scheme.

Test drilling, due to begin within months, will take place on privately owned land – the site of a former landfill and brick pit owned by a company called Dial A Dump.

Macquarie Energy, owned by Apollo Gas, confirmed it had engaged in discussions with the City of Sydney. Drilling is expected to last 60 days.

Evidence of the deal to explore underneath Sydney arose in a call for papers by the Greens in the NSW upper house last week.

Greens MLC Cate Faehrmann said the project should be halted until the public had a chance to assess and comment on its impact.

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Poisoning the Well

(regarding USA fracking & the Gasland film)
Gas companies access the valuable underground shale deposits by offering homeowners “gas leases,” agreements that bring these gas wells into people’s backyards for large sums of money. An unnamed drilling company offered Fox $100,000 to lease his family land, about 20 acres sitting on “the Saudi Arabia of natural gas” that’s part of the New York watershed. Fox declined the offer and started investigating the deceptively simple terms of the lease only to discover a disturbing contradiction between industry and environmentalists.

Sydney's secret power grab

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people are organizing a rally in the park and contact details were taken for people interested in being part of the organizing group. if you would like to help, or just find out more, please contact Cate Faehrmann (Green party) via cate.faehrmann AT parliament DOT nsw DOT gov DOT au or visit Cate's campaign page. there is also a facebook page/group called Sydney Residents Against Coal Seam Gas - please join this to find out more or to offer your help

the rally is being held:
Where: Cnr Campbell Rd & Euston Sts, St Peters (near Sydney Park / near approved drill site)
When: 11am, Saturday December 19

You might want to also take a look at the "Lock the Gate Alliance" group on facebook (search for it if there's a problem with this link), or their website http://lockthegate.org.au - they have factsheets about coal seam gas mining and are trying to stop it happening on farming land in Qld and NSW. I'm finding it very worrying that the gas mining companies are risking our future water supplies and farming land (crop production) - I'm hoping that the city mining will be squashed, but I hope also the regional mining will be too.

this factsheet was handed out (pdf version of printed copy) - it covers topics such as :

Coal Seam Methane Gas - Fact Sheet NSW
What is Coal Seam Gas?
How is Methane Gas extracted from a Coal Seam?
How could this affect me?
How am I protected?
Where can I find help?

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also, last night I took at look at some of the ASX announcements on the companies involved:

Apollo Gas ASX announcement for St Peters drilling http://bit.ly/ftPaWQ (rename .asp to .pdf to read) (search for Apollo Gas "AZO" ASX code on ASX.com.au)

"The PEL (Petroleum Exploration Licence) licence area covers 2,385 square kilometres & extends from Kurnell to Gosford & west to Eastern Creek." - they've said they want to start in St Peters, but the licence allows exploration much further than this. where else will it happen??
http://www.apollogas.net.au/PEL-463.pdf is a map showing the area covered by the PEL. note on the apollo gas site they have been granted multiple PELs covering other areas of NSW too

ASX shows a takeover bid for Apollo (AZO) by Dart Energy 26/11 (Asia/Aus) http://bit.ly/gFVPdA related much?

from Dart's customers (listed on their website) it looks like if that gas does get drilled it's off to asia with it? at the meeting, they mentioned there were no agreements with the City of Sydney for any gas that might be drilled by Apollo to be used by City of Sydney. Dart was demergered from Arrow Energy in October 2010, so there's been quite a few restructures in the companies going on.

something to think about.. what makes a company get city mining licence, then split into other companies. apollo's share price is dropping. I imagine dart would get a good deal

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other links / info :

Arrow Energy community factsheets

pdf factsheet - difference between CSG (coal seam gas) and USG (underground coal gasification) - produced by Arrow Energy

Murray Darling Basin Authority - Basin Plan website

Malcom Turnbull has written a blog post about the Murray Darling Basin Plan which discusses some of the issues : The water act and the basin plan

the Commonwealth Water Act 2007

Windsor plans CSG fix article on Queensland Country Life website

Murray-Darling inquiry news page - Tony Windsor asks people to make submissions on their concerns regarding Murray Darling Basin and Water issues (watch the video) - submissions due 20th december

Tony Windsor's question in parliament about water & coal seam gas mining 26/10/2010 http://bit.ly/i5U2pv

[quote]Companies seeking to exploit the lucrative NSW coal seam gas reserves are likely to face a new federal regulatory barrier as the independent MP Tony Windsor prepares to use his balance-of-power position to require region-wide water assessments before new mining proceeds.[/quote]

don't forget about the "Beyond Zero Emissions - Zero Carbon Australia Stationary Energy Plan which was released earlier this year - pushing for "100% renewable energy for Australia by 2020" ie no mining (coal or gas) required. http://beyondzeroemissions.org

Cate Faehrmann's (Green Party) CSG briefing paper (pdf) - Cate was the person who initially raised awareness of the St Peters exploratory drilling approval - thanks for letting us know about this Cate!

http://www.apollogas.net.au/PEL-463.pdf - this shows the map of sydney where the PEL (licence) has been approved for exploratory drilling
if you click on http://www.apollogas.net.au - Overview, you can see there's multiple PEL's granted to Apollo gas..

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