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Origin Energy halt CSG drilling in Queensland

World Coal,

Origin Energy has stopped hydraulic fracturing at coal seam gas wells in Queensland, Australia after the discovery of BTX (a mixture of benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene) around eight coal wells near Miles, Brisbane.

Farmers in the surrounding area are now having their groundwater tested to make sure hydrocarbons are not present. Hydraulic fracturing is a controversial technique and there have long been fears about potential groundwater contamination, due to the fact that the technique requires drillers to inject a mixture of water, sand and chemicals at high pressure underground to break up rock formations.

Origin has refused to release the exact makeup of the chemicals it has been using, which are supplied by Halliburton, however Origin's manager of oil and gas operations, Paul Zealand, has stated that BTEX was not being used as a fracking fluid.

“This is a real surprise to us because we have been using chemicals which are free of BTEX,” Mr Zealand said.

“Having found these traces in our samples, I think it's incumbent on us to stop drilling while we do the investigation.”

However, environmentalists and residents have been calling for the banning of CSG extraction in the area, and Queensland Opposition MP Ray Hopper, has called for independent testing of water samples over the current self-regulatory assessment method, which is currently used to regulate water quality.

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