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CSG industry supports BTEX ban

The coal seam gas (CSG) industry supports moves by the Queensland Government to ban benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes (BTEX) in fraccing operations.

The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association’s Queensland director, Matthew Paull, said, “Hydraulic fracturing (fraccing) is a safe technology and CSG operations should not be confused with underground coal gasification. These are completely different technologies that produce very different environmental outcomes.”

CSG extraction is proven technology which has been used commercially for decades and involves the removal of water from coal seams so that gas can flow.

Fraccing is a process used safely by oil and gas companies around the world to increase the recovery of underground gas and oil resources. For CSG operations, fraccing involves pumping a fluid consisting mostly of water and sand under pressure into a coal seam.

This fractures the coal seam, with the sand then holding the new fracture open, enabling gas to flow at a greater rate. Only a small proportion of all the coal seam gas wells drilled in Queensland have been fracced.

Water alone is not the most effective carrier of sand, and some chemicals are used in fraccing to create a gel to suspend the sand as it is pumped into the coal seam. These chemicals make up less than one per cent of the fraccing fluid and the risk to public health at these levels is negligible.

A series of studies have assessed the impacts of fraccing and they regularly conclude fraccing is safe. For example, the conclusion of a report completed in 2004 by the United States Environmental Protection Authority was that fraccing poses “little or no threat to underground sources of drinking water”.

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