Metgasco spokesman Richard Shields, senior geologist Anita Doigh and drilling supervisor Craig Nairn. Photo: Lachlan Thompson
Metgasco spokesman Richard Shields, senior geologist Anita Doigh and drilling supervisor Craig Nairn. Photo: Lachlan Thompson

Metgasco drilling supervisor takes us behind the scenes

CONCERNS about CSG's environmental impact are the result of bad media coverage and public furore, according to Metgasco's drilling supervisor Craig Nairn.

Mr Nairn was at the test drilling site in Glenugie yesterday where the gas company is taking a core sample to see whether the coal seam, about 500m beneath the ground, holds methane gas.

Mr Nairn was accompanied by Metgasco's senior geologist Anita Doigh, who is waiting until the drill rig returns samples of coal to test whether or not the Clarence Valley is a viable site for a gas field.

"I have been in this industry since 1992 and I was involved in the fracking of one well in 1992 but I have not fracked a well since," said Mr Nairn.

He said throughout the test drilling process it was not possible for water from the coal seam to come into contact with ground water.

According to Mr Nairn, as the drill goes into the earth it is sealed from the water and rock around it by a foam gel.

At several stages throughout the drilling of the hole, steel and cement casings are inserted to protect surrounding aquifers.

The casing and its integrity, or lack thereof, has been the source of much of the controversy surrounding the CSG industry.

However, the spokeswoman for the Northern Rivers Alliance Against Coal Seam Gas, Boudicca Cerese, has previously said the rate of failure for the steel and concrete casings around the wells can be as high as 60% over 20 years.

Spokesman for Metgasco Richard Shields, who was also at Glenugie yesterday, said the claim was made by a lecturer in civil engineering at Cornell University in the United States, Dr Anthony Ingraffea.

Mr Shields said Dr Ingraffea does not have scientific evidence linking the fact a well is leaking to the fact it has contaminated surrounding aquifers.

Right now the drill bit is sitting just above the coal seam, at about 470m below ground.

The steel and concrete casing has been put in place.

Ms Doigh said she expects the coal seam is at a depth of about 500m.

Once the core hole has been drilled and samples from the coal seam have been tested, the hole will be filled with concrete and the area around it, according to legislation, should be returned to a state the landholder is satisfied with.

This site has not been approved as a site where natural gas or methane can actually be extracted.

Metgasco's licence is for exploration only.

Ms Cerese says once Metgasco has established this site sits atop natural gas, the Domestic Petroleum Act means as long as a production licence is issued by the NSW Government the project can continue with or without landholder approval.

Minister for Resources and Energy Chris Hartcher was contacted to assess this claim but did not reply by our printing deadline.



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