Gasfield Free Northern Rivers and Bentley landholders have today commended the NSW government for its decision to uphold the suspension of Metgasco’s coal seam gas exploration licence over the Bentley and Casino area. The licence was suspended on 15 May due to ‘inadequate consultation’ after sustained and overwhelming community opposition which culminated in the historic Bentley Blockade.
“We thank the government for listening to the people of Bentley and the Northern Rivers and upholding Metgasco’s licence suspension,” said Bentley landholder Rosemary Joseph.
“Industrialised gas fields have no place in our valley or the region as a whole. The Northern Rivers is known for its beautiful and productive farmland, and is a worldwide tourism destination that should be protected from invasive gasfields for perpetuity.”
“Our community is greatly relieved that will not have to face another drilling attempt from Metgasco and the huge police presence it would require anytime soon.”
“However, while a licence is still in place we will live with the threat of the drilling hanging over us and are urging the government to take the next step and cancel Metgasco’s licence outright,” she concluded.
“The Northern Rivers community commends the government for making this common sense and correct decision to uphold the suspension of Metgasco’s gas mining licence,” said Gasfield Free Northern Rivers spokesperson, Ian Gaillard.
“Metgasco’s community consultation was clearly inadequate and this is a vindication of what the community has been saying for years about this industry.”
“While we are grateful that the government has allowed this community a reprieve, people remain overwhelmingly opposed to any gasfield industrialisation of the Northern Rivers, and will not have certainty until Metgasco’s gas licence is cancelled.”
“We have provided substantial and damning evidence to the government evidencing Metgasco’s failed community consultation, and maintain that there are sufficient grounds for them to cancel the company’s licence,” concluded Mr Gaillard.
22nd April 2013.
I contacted the Gasfield Community Support group after hearing Laurence Springborg saying on the radio that no workers in the CSG industry had become sick, and the air and water tests were good quality.
I started in the industry in 2008, and worked for 3 ½ years on a mobile drill rig. Initially I was employed by… Mitchell drilling who were taken over by AJ Lucas. With the exception of one well, at all other times Mitchell drilling /AJ Lucas were contracted to Santos. I was employed as the “offsider” initially, graduating to senior drillers assistant. One of the tasks was mixing chemicals into the mud pits to pump down the drill string. There were different polymers used. They pumped “mud” down the drill string. (Salt water, KCL and polymer JK261, (a lubricant)). On an average lease, if they were not taking losses, you would use an average of 12 tons of KCL and 15 pallets (720 drums /10,800kg of polymer) to keep the viscosity up and lubricate the drill bit. The polymer was mixed in the pits through a hopper. The polymer had to be sprinkled into the hopper and it was blowing in the face, in the eyes; we were constantly breathing it in. This happened for hours at a time. We had masks, with
a diaphragm sometimes, otherwise paper. The masks were also used when mixing the cement for the casing if Halliburton did not come in and we were doing the cement job ourselves.
When drilling down, going through the Permian or Jurassic riverbeds which were very permeable, sometimes the drilling muds would disappear. They could take huge losses We took core samples when Santos told us to. They took core samples on every drill hole, usually
about 600 metres in depth. 80% of the time they got pretty good returns- getting most of the returns back up the drill into the pits. But 20% of the time, especially in Fairview, east of Injune, they couldn’t stop the losses.
They could use approximately 20 tons of KCL (semi-trailer loads full) with water. There was 50,000 litres of water in each of three pits. On one rig, in a 12 hour shift we used 27tons of KCL along with 100,000 litres of water and multiple other chemicals. The next 12 hour shift would then come on and this could go on for days doing exactly the same thing until the losses were stopped. They would use 9.4 heavy- saturation point- lots of KCL, JK261, CR650-polymer. The KCL was to “weigh down” the gas bubble. When they were taking losses they would use ‘frac seal fine’, composed of silver paper, coarse saw dust, trying to fill the hole, to block it. They tried to stop the loss by plugging the hole. They would use maybe 10 different chemicals including bentonite, they would keep pumping down, trying to fill the losses. If the muds were going disappearing) gases could be coming in; they had to try and block it off with a different medium, and keep pumping it down the drill string to seal the hole. They tried to weigh down the gas bubble. They were worried about gases coming back in and the risk of explosion; it was a very dangerous time and happened often (maybe 20%of the time)
In the Gunnedah basin south of Coonabarrabin, they drilled a hole and hit the fresh water aquifer, Fresh water was pouring out of the hole, diluting the salt content. They had to bring trucks in to take the water away; they put the casing in and tried sealing it off with cement on the outside of the drill string.There were problems in the Gunnedah basin because the aquifers were close to the surface, they had to get through the aquifers and keep drilling to get to the coal seam. They got a drill string stuck in one particular hole. They brought in black stuff in a 1000 litre container, called “pipe free”. I’m not sure how it worked. I think they pumped it down the drill string to try to free up the soil and recover the expensive equipment from the hole. It stunk to high heaven. It was very smelly, dangerous: we were told not to get any on our skin. It happened in a hole in Fairview; Santos owned the property near Injune. On every fifth hole or so they got stuck but could get the tool free without major problems apart from patience and time. But if the tool sheared off they fished for the tool or cemented the hole up and moved on a couple metres, cutting their losses and started drilling again. (This happened about three times when I was there but there was only one time they used “pipe free”.) It is a big problem for them and expensive if they lose tools down the hole.
Weatherfords did the logging. They used radiation sources. I heard that they had lost tools down the hole, but not at the time I was there.
At times there were problems with the end plug with gas bubbling through the cement, they couldn’t stop it. There were bubbles coming up through the water that was sitting over the cement in the cellar. I saw it three or four times.
On Fairview, there were lots of drill holes, it was like a porcupine. Drill holes could be as little as 150 meters apart at times, at other places kilometres apart. There are now a lot of production wells there.
I started getting sick, with nose bleeds on a regular basis in 2011. I had never had a nose bleed in my life before. My work schedule was– out for 18 days, home for 9 with 2 days travelling out of it. (I am an organic farmer, totally self-sufficient and solar powered, and I was trying to set myself-up for older life. I was working out there for the money. I was cautious about saying anything- I had lost a job before for speaking out). I was better when got home on days off; when I went back out, again there was blood dripping from my nose. I had nose bleeds in the shower.
We broke up earlier than expected at the end of 2011 because of wet weather. I was coughing and couldn’t clear my chest. I went to the doctor in late November/ early December. He listened to my lungs and sent me for a CXR.
I had a terrible feeling of anxiety and just felt terrible. The anxiety was there all day from the minute I woke up to when I went to bed. I was sent for a CT scan and told I had moderate emphysema. I had only smoked for a couple of years, age 19 and 20, not since. I looked up the internet and seen Dr Roger Allen near the Wesley. I did a test lasting 6 hours and had a lung biopsy. I was told I had inflammation, lung infection, bronchitis. I wanted compensation, adamant that the cause was what I had been using at work. Dr Allen wouldn’t commit to what was causing it. I had sick benefit for a couple of months- I was off for a couple of months then they told me I was fit to work. I wouldn’t go back to mixing chemicals; they told me there was nothing else for me- got nothing for me. They wiped their hands of me. Now I am back on the farm. I am not coughing as much. I still haven’t 100% capacity in my lungs. I have cough and phlegm and loss of lung function. When I was working on the rigs I would have spasm of my hands. I would grab a set of stilsons to do up a drill joint, when trying to let go I couldn’t open my hand. I had to use the other hand to open the knuckles back up.
There was lead based grease, real thick grease, used on the drill joints, also a zinc based grease called ZN50. The young fellows I was working with here getting it all over themselves. It is carcinogenic. They were using 20kg buckets in a 10 day period.The other driller, age 27, had bad skin. It looked like dermatitis. He had red skin around his eyes and hairline. It would look better each time he came back from break. We lost contact.
A lot of people are out of work, with a downturn in the industry.
It was a 24 hour rig, 12 hour shift, 4 on crew, driller, and senior offsider, 2 junior offsiders.There was always a crew on break. Apart from the people you work with you don’t know other people.
There were big camps. We lived in camps or hotel accommodation, up to 80% of the time in camps. People complained about the water at times. The truck just didn’t look hygienic. The water was next to the septic tank which overflowed several times. People were getting stomach bugs. – I am unsure if the drinking water was bore water. Santos took the drinking water away a couple of times because of complaints. The water in the mud pits was recycled to the next lease for drilling.
The drill cuttings went back into the pits. When in the Gunnedah basin they started lining the pits with big plastic liners. They didn’t tend to line them in Queensland. There were hundreds of tons of cuttings. It was a problem. I’m not sure what happened to the pits, or the plastic or the cuttings.
When we were out there, if there was 4 inches of rain the salt water in the pits started flowing over.
If they knew the rain was coming, they would try and pump the mud out and dump it somewhere else like in new pits Santos planted fodder trees, not Australian natives. I think they planted them to get rid of coal seam gas water by using it for irrigation. There were maybe 10,000acres that Santos planted. That then became a problem. Now seeds have washed out and are growing on the sides of the road, in waterways. They have become a pest now.
The industry took off very quickly; it went from a controlled Australian industry with a few different Australian companies and rigs, to overnight rigs coming in from Canada, Mexico, everywhere.
Whatever controls they went through in the past seemed to have disappeared over night.
When I worked in the Gunnedah basin, there was lots of protest by the locals, and road blocks to go through. There were also open cut coal mines being licenced to overseas buyers (particularly the Chinese) who were buying the land up. The farmers didn’t like it. Because of the protest our image had to be squeaky clean and there was a lot more control on the industry than in Queensland. Problems with farmers were not such a problem in Western Queensland. There was an occasional well on their property, maybe up to 10 wells on big properties. Santos was building a big airport. I didn’t see any protest by farmers in Queensland. It was not a problem on big properties. Santos and Origin own some big properties.
Arcadia Valley, north of Injune is a magic pristine country of big aboriginal significance. It is a rift valley, with a huge escarpment and caves. It shouldn’t have been touched, it should be heritage listed.
Aj lucas had one rig in the Arcadia valley and disturbed sacred aboriginal sites. There were maybe six holes. There was no more or no less care than in Fairview. I think it was a shame.The wastage was immense.In a 12 hour shift 2000 litres of diesel was used just for an exploration rig. (For the production rig to get the gas out of the ground, the fuel usage would be astronomical.) In addition to the drilling
there were air conditioners and generators running all the time. There were 100’s of rigs in the area. There were diesel spills and leaks.
Other waste, Industrial bins full of plastic drums were emptied twice a week; there was a huge amount of food wasted.
I went to an energy forum in Lismore on Friday 31st May… Really interesting stuff:
if we don’t push for renewables now WE WILL PAY HEAPS MORE FOR ELECTRICITY soon. one example is; $250 MILLION for a new electricity line IN THIS AREA that lock us in for 30 years plus contract to buy dirty coal power stopping us from adapting to the ever- widening and emerging renewable energy opportunities, restricting us for decades to come! Our government is slamming the door in the faces of investors that are willing, able and waiting to build a variety of clean renewable power stations by not letting them access the public infrastructure grid, but instead are currently letting private dirty polluting energy corporations use our poles and wires and have their way with us.
We need to lead by example and make our own community owned and operated clean power generations stations like in Wildpoldsried, Germany where in just ten short years they were able to not only provide themselves with 100% of their power needs but also to produce an excess of 221% …totalling 321% of self generated renewable power! They sell their excess power which bring in extra money for their community and thus creates a lot of their own jobs for themselves in the process.
We no longer need to primitively dig holes in the ground in search of out-dated fossil fuels. The big lie/myth is that mining sector keeps this country afloat; this is simply not true. Statistics show all mining totals about 6-8% of this country’s Gross Domestic Product and only employ 2-3% of our workers, and how much of that money stays in Australia?!?
Mining threatens most of our other industries like; Tourism, farming, manufacturing ect.. which are way more valuable and not worth losing over out-dated blinded- by- greed short sighted old ways of thinking.
Renewables also have the opportunity to create many more ongoing jobs. If we are going to survive as a civilisation we need to act bloody soon as it’s not too late, but a 2-3 degree global temperature increase could quite possibly be the end game for us all… ! BOOM BABY!
Our world seems to be more content on jobs and economic outcomes than it does on the planet and future sustainability! Please read below.
The wells have been multiplying like crazy here since Bush gave his gas & oil buddies free reign to drill without obeying existing requirements of our water and air pollution laws. There is a backlash building in some communities here, including where I live, as there is lots of drilling in Colorado. We have an industry-friendly governor who is suing towns that ban fracking, as has happened in the next town over in my county.
It is becoming a bit of a more high profile issue, I think, due to the fight in New York state. Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon formed the group Artists Against Fracking when their upstate farm became threatened by fracking. There is an enormous shale deposit, one of the last untouched ones in the US, which goes through NY and into Pennsylvania, spanning huge tracts of farmland and environmentally sensitive areas. So far, there is a fracking moratorium in place, but Governor Cuomo has not yet ruled it out, as it obviously brings a huge amount of revenue to the state.
Mark Ruffalo, one of my favorite actors, is very involved in Artists Against Fracking and very outspoken about it. Susan Sarandon, Alec Baldwin, Paul McCartney and his NY wife, Natalie Merchant and even Lady Gaga, along with a bunch of other actors and musicians have signed on, which will hopefully bring it more attention.
Recently, Gus Van Sant directed a movie written by and starting Matt Damon and John Krasinski that explored the human side of fracking coming to a small, economically struggling midwestern town. I thought it was very good at showing some differing views without getting into all of the larger pros and cons of the issue. I don’t think Matt Damon has joined with the real life anti-frackers though.
Wow…that’s probably way more info than you wanted! Guess I am in a “chatty” mood. And this whole fracking thing really gets me going. I may have to move if it gets much closer to Boulder. The wind already blows all those toxins this way, I’m sure. Plus, in a state with such water shortages as Colorado, I really can’t see how it can be justified to take such an enormous amount of water out of the natural cycle and divert it from the farms and ranches that feed us. The whole thing is sickeningly preposterous.
OK, I am stepping down off of my soapbox now….
Find out what NSW residents think about the environment at an upcoming series of free public seminars run by the Office of Environment and Heritage.
Delve into the findings of the soon to be released Who Cares about the Environment in 2012? research report and find out how they can inform your work.
The longest running tracking survey of its type in Australia, the Who Cares about the Environment? research series charts environmental knowledge, attitudes and behaviours across NSW.
Further information, including registration details, will be sent shortly. In the meantime, be sure to mark the date in your diary.
- Sydney CBD – Tuesday 12 March 2013, 9.30am – 12.00pm
- Maitland – Monday 18 March 2013, 10.00am – 1.00pm
- · Lismore – Wednesday 20 March 2013, 10.00am – 1.00pm
- Sydney CBD – Friday 22 March 2013, 9.30am – 12.00pm
- Parramatta – Tuesday 26 March 2013, 9.30am – 12.00pm
- Wagga Wagga – Tuesday 26 March 2013, 10.00am – 1.00pm
- Orange – Tuesday 9 April 2013, 10.00am – 1.00pm
- Armidale – Thursday 11 April 2013, 10.00am – 1.00pm
- · Webinar – date to be confirmed
I have copied MOST of a long article Published in TYEE a BC newspaper in America FYI
It puts things in perspective. Maybe we need to send it to pollies. Would they read it?
Turning natural gas into liquid sucks electricity. Ratepayers, guard your wallets.
A former investment banker says the explosion in shale gas development, such as frenzied activity in northern B.C., was a financial mania largely driven by Wall Street bankers intent on capitalizing upon a record $46-billion worth of mergers and acquisitions that shook up the troubled industry in 2011.
In an attempt to meet unrealistic financial production targets (and please Wall Street), the industry drove natural gas prices to uneconomic lows in recent years, throwing the entire industry and its backers into panic mode, says Deborah Rogers in a startling new report
for the Energy Policy Forum.
who once worked as a financial consultant for Merrill Lynch and is a member of the U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI), adds that shale gas reserves have been vastly overestimated and overhyped. Moreover, new data confirms rapid decline rates and poor recovery levels, which means limited revenue for resource owners such as the people of British Columbia.
Shale gas estimates are not only wildly optimistic, but shale gas fields are consistently under-performing with extreme environmental costs for rural communities.
“Every region in the U.S. which has shale development provides a cautionary tale,” says Rogers. “Economic stability has proved elusive. Environmental degradation and peripheral costs, however, have proved very real indeed.”
Moreover, the claim that shale gas will propel the continent to “energy independence” is a cruel joke, says Rogers. Multinationals are now scrambling to get governments to subsidize schemes to liquify and export the temporary gas glut to Asian markets for higher prices.
“Platform rhetoric about energy independence is nonsense as most people in industry recognize. … If shale developers can export their product to Asia where they will be paid multiples of what they can expect domestically, then that is where the gas will go.”
The shale gas boom exploded in the mid 2000s as industry experimented with high volume hydraulic fracking in shale rock formations throughout the United States.
‘SHALE AND WALL STREET’: SEVEN CONCLUSIONS
Deborah Rogers’ report for the Energy Policy Forum makes these assertions:
1. Wall Street promoted the shale gas drilling frenzy, which resulted in prices lower than the cost of production and thereby profited [enormously] from mergers & acquisitions and other transactional fees.
2. U.S. shale gas and shale oil reserves have been overestimated by a minimum of 100 per cent and by as much as 400 to 500 per cent by operators, according to actual well production data filed in various states.
3. Shale oil wells are following the same steep decline rates and poor recovery efficiency observed in shale gas wells.
4. The price of natural gas has been driven down largely due to severe overproduction in meeting financial analysts’ targets of production growth for share appreciation, coupled and exacerbated by imprudent leverage and thus a concomitant need to produce to meet debt service.
5. Due to extreme levels of debt, stated proved undeveloped reserves (PUDs) may not have been in compliance with SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission] rules at some shale companies because of the threat of collateral default for those operators.
6. Industry is demonstrating reticence to engage in further shale investment, abandoning pipeline projects, IPOs and joint venture projects in spite of public rhetoric proclaiming shales to be a panacea for U.S. energy policy.
7. Exportation is being pursued for the arbitrage between the domestic and international prices in an effort to shore up ailing balance sheets invested in shale assets.
The controversial technology, which is more capital and energy intensive than conventional gas, allowed firms to access previously uneconomic deposits of gas and blast them apart with high-pressured volumes of chemicals, water and sand.
Few jobs, little stimulus
Although industry and government have trumpeted shale gas development as a miraculous economic engine that might even solve the common cold, the facts prove otherwise says Rogers.
“Retail sales per capita and median household income in the core counties of the major plays are under-performing their respective state averages in direct opposition to spurious economic models commissioned by industry.”
Moreover, the capital intensive oil and gas industry creates a limited number of jobs. “Direct industry jobs (for onshore and offshore oil and gas) have accounted for less than one-twentieth of one per cent of the overall U.S. labour market since 2003, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,” says Rogers.
In Texas, shale gas activity has cost taxpayers billions in road repairs and lost royalties as well as higher levels of air pollution and water contamination.
Shale gas is a classic energy bubble, concludes Rogers. It won’t build any bridges to the future other than debt and a dangerous treadmill of accelerated drilling to keep production flat.
“The price of natural gas has been driven down largely due to severe overproduction in meeting financial analysts’ targets of production growth for share appreciation coupled and exacerbated by imprudent leverage and thus a concomitant need to produce to meet debt service.”
Tomorrow ( Saturday16/2/13 morning, from 9am, there is a private party being held in support of the Doubtful Creek protest. Some visitors such as Xavier Rudd will be playing. Please bring along some change to drop into the donation buckets for GAG Kyogle, as we urgently need to collect monies in order to help with legal fees, fines etc for those brave protestors who have put their bodies on the line to save our land, air, water, future from the destruction of CSG. Location details will be posted on the CSG Free Northern Rivers website this arvo.
Doubtful Creek Protest Update 8th Feb 2013
Yesterday saw the arrival of Metgasco’s CSG drill rig at Doubtful Creek.
Around 50 police including the rural riot squad were needed to push the 300 strong protest lines apart. Many were determined to use their bodies to block the way of 15 semi-trailers carrying the rig and all of its equipment onto the public lands of Eden Creek State Forest. Protesters booed and chanted ‘shame’, they yelled ‘ Metgasco does own the Northern Rivers”. The sight of Metgasco’s police assisted success was not a good moment.
The police did not have an easy time. 9 people were arrested including Nimbin’s Environment Centre President Philippe Dupuy. He was arrested for being in a tunnel that had been dug under Knights Road. Clare Twomey, a Knitting Nana from Kyogle GAG was taken down from a 4m bamboo tripod on a cherry picker. The protesters loudly supported her action and the police did not detain her.
Adrienne Stones from Rock Valley was taken to hospital with head injuries after hitting the front of a 4WD. Lock the Gate President Drew Hutton was arrested for lying down on the road to obstruct Metgasco’s advancement.
The police used their power to shut down much of Knights Rd. A road block was set up at Dyraaba, there police stopped cars told people the Doubtful Creek protest was illegal. Some of the many cars that were parked along both sides of Knights Rd were damaged by the entering rigs and by a neighboring man who decided to show his contempt for the blockaders.
Philippe Dupuy will be speaking at the Blue Knob Farmers Market tomorrow Saturday. Cnr Lillian Rock & Blue Knob Rds, Blue Knob at 10am. His subject includes the potential threat that CSG presents to the region and the ground swell of resistance.
Glenugie update. The Glenugie protester arrested on Wednesday for tying up Metgasco and the police for 9 hours with the infamous Traumatron was a local man, artist Rodney Sharpe. When he was released from his mad max cage sloganed with “protecting our future’ and “If you don’t stand up for something you will fall for anything” he looked straight into the TV cameras: the look of elation on his face spoke a thousand words.
Monday will see the Glenugie protesters go before the Grafton Magistrates Court. On mass they will be pleading ‘not guilty’. Lillian Rock woman Daniele Voinot was injured at the Glenugie blockade as a result of being thrown to the ground and roughly handcuffed. Images of her struggle have traveled around the world.
To cool the front line down gentle rain is falling at Doubtful Creek. People are regrouping and letting yesterdays experience settle. If Metgasco thinks they’ve won and the police will protect them from the big bad world then they are in for a rude awakening. Their share prices are looking at the bottom on the barrel. Queensland’s first Greens Senator, Larissa Waters has come out swinging. Senator Waters stated it was time for the NSW and federal governments to “lift their game” and “…Labor is willing to let their backbenchers curry favour with their local communities to win votes, despite having no intention of changing their party policy on fossil fuels”. Richmond MP Justine Elliot has used her new found freedom from parliamentary secretary for trade to talk of the strong community campaigns being waged against the CSG industry, citing the Doubtful Creek protest as an example of regional attitude. “All we have seen from those state MPs on the North Coast is absolute silence and total inaction. Well, they had better start listening and they had better start going to see Premier Barry O’Farrell, because the people of the North Coast have spoken very loudly and clearly. I stand with them in calling for a ban on coal seam gas mining”.
Andrea Soler and the Wadeville Mob will transform the
Doubtful Creek front line with song this Sunday 10th Feb at 2pm
Written by Marie Cameron ….firstname.lastname@example.org