The Dangers of Coal Seam Gas Extraction (Fracking)
Outbackjack: DEBATE over the safety of ''fracking'' in Australia has reignited after a gas project in Britain was named as the likely cause of 50 tremors this year.
A panel of seismic experts has found it ''highly probable'' that fracking conducted by Cuadrilla Resources - 41 per cent-owned by Australian drilling company AJ Lucas - was the cause of two significant tremors and 48 aftershocks near the British town of Blackpool in April and May.
The findings come after the independent MP Tony Windsor told the federal government this week he would not support its mining tax unless more was done to investigate the safety of fracking in Australia.
Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a controversial gas extraction technique that uses high pressure solutions to fracture rocks deep underground. The process is used in both coal seam gas and shale gas extraction and, if poorly executed, can contaminate groundwater and trigger seismic activity.
Fracking is most common in the United States but is fast spreading to other nations like Australia and Britain, where Cuadrilla hoped to develop a gas source near Blackpool. The company was forced to launch an investigation after tremors of magnitude 2.3 and 1.5 appeared to follow a series of fracks.
The report - commissioned by Cuadrilla - confirmed the fracking was ''most likely'' to have caused the tremors but said the region had ''rare'' geological factors that were one of ''many factors'' which ''coincided to induce these seismic events''.
AJ Lucas services the main coal and coal seam gas basins in Queensland and NSW, including in the Hunter Valley, Bowen Basin and Surat Basin.
The Cuadrilla revelations are not the first time fracking has been linked to tremors, with regulators in the US state of Arkansas expressing concern that two shale wells - now owned by BHP Billiton - were responsible for causing
Speaking last night, Mr Windsor said he was happy with the progress he had made towards forcing the government to spend a further $400 million on studies into fracking and other mining tactics. He said the Cuadrilla report highlighted the need for more independent research.
''Obviously, some areas are more sensitive than others. It probably indicates just what I've said - there is a need for more research because these things can happen.''
The Lock the Gate Alliance, which has mounted a vocal campaign against coal seam gas in Australia, said concerns about links between shale gas fracking and seismic activity had existed for some time and should have been considered before exploration permits were granted. The alliance president, Drew Hutton, said he was ''just as opposed'' to shale gas as coal seam gas, saying the risk of seismic activity was ''only one of a whole raft of problems that shale gas has''.
The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association said the Cuadrilla revelations did not change its view that fracking was a ''well-understood and heavily regulated technology''.
The Cuadrilla incident has also reignited debate between resources companies over which type of fracking is safer.
Last month BHP's chief executive, Marius Kloppers, painted shale fracking as the safer option as it occurred deeper and further from groundwater aquifers. But yesterday a spokesman for AGL, which has significant CSG operations, hit back, saying the shallower depth of CSG fracking meant it was unlikely to cause seismic activity. ''There's never, ever been any reports of tremors relating to CSG,'' he said.
Outbackjack: Coal seam gas extraction destroys our groundwater and releases harmful chemicals into our environment.
A must see is the award winning documentary Gasland:
For more information:
chronology: I know you have concerns about these issues jack, but frankly most of the scare stories about Energy are just that; scare stories. Energy suppliers hold a kind of 'Beauty Pageant' of themselves in the Media, where they diss one another and say how their Energy is Safer than anyone elses. They also hype the disadvantages of rival Energy sources.
Outbackjack: I challenge you Chronology to watch the movie Gasland.Its an award winning documentary about how huge swathes of the U.S have been destroyed.
Watch it(its available on the net) and I guarantee you will change your opinion instantly.
Up for the challenge?
Geoff: I agree that fracking has raised a lot scientific objections. Primarily because of the seismic issues raised. Britain is a largely geologically stable location, we do have the occasional tremor, but they are rare, mild, and largely unnoticed.
The increase in seismic events happens to coincide with fracking. While this probably isn't going to result in serious damage or injury here in the UK, the growing demand and scarcity of fossil fuels means that someone is going to ignore the risks and do it somewhere that could cause serious environmental damage.
The next major tsunami may the result of fracking. Or we may see California disappear off the map (see Superman/View to a kill/all sorts of sci-fi/disaster movies - life imitating art).
AussieOi: Simply fascinating, how relatively tiny pricks into the crust are linked to seismic events. I'd be thinking they are insignificant. Pollution effects from fracking well, I'd think are not insignificant. As for water table effects.
I'm not keen to sit through another fracking vid but ty.