CONCERN grows for the environmental impact from waste water by Queensland’s coal seam gas (CSG) industry, but a number of companies have today revealed they are focused on putting the water to good use.
A study of CSG water from Arrow Energy’s Surat Basin operations has shown no detectable levels of any harmful substances, as the industry faces pressure from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
CEO Shaun Scott says the company is pursuing opportunities to use the 13 megalitres of water produced per day to benefit the nearby Dalby community, which is currently in drought with local supplies depleting.
“In the same way that Arrow has been a first mover in developing an alternative fuel to power Queensland’s accelerating growth, the company is now leading the way in helping to ease the state’s water crisis,” says Scott.
“Dalby is struggling to obtain long-term sources of water while local aquifers are depleting and have not been significantly recharged in over a decade.”
Arrow has developed the world’s first mobile reverse osmosis facility to treat coal seam gas water for crop irrigation, but is also involved in a number of water-utilising initiatives including saltwater fish farming and beef feedlots.
“Arrow Energy, in conjunction with the Queensland Government’s Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, has completed the first stage of a research project to investigate the viability of farming saltwater fish in its coal seam gas evaporation ponds,” he says.
“Up to 4 ml of untreated coal seam gas water is currently being supplied to two local feedlots – Grassdale Cattle and Wambo Cattle.”
The Brisbane-based company is currently negotiating to supply water to both the Braemar Power Station and the Origin Energy Power Station at Kogan, for power station cooling and emergency fire fighting purposes.
Arrow is also supplying water to wash coal for Peabody’s Wilkie Creek Coal and is looking at ways to use desalinisation plants to supplement town water supplies. The company’s environment manager Ralph Gunness, says Arrow takes its community and environmental responsibilities very seriously.
“We are committed to working with all stakeholders towards win-win outcomes, as is evidenced by the multiple proactive project investments we are currently pursuing,” says Gunness.
The implications of waste water are also relevant to a number of companies with projects in the Bowen and Surat Basins, with a mix of local and international players including Icon Energy, Bow Energy, Santos, ConocoPhillips, Eastern Gas, Origin Energy and British Gas.
Icon Energy managing director Ray James says his company is looking for a number of ways to use coal seam water.
“This waste water is not a negative thing – we’ve just got to learn how to handle it, as there’s an optimistic side to this great resource,” says James.
“It’s a brand new industry that didn’t exist 15 years ago and we will find innovative ways to make the waste water useful. In Goondiwindi we are currently in discussions with the mayor and the council to see if they need the water once it’s been treated for irrigation use and also to use locally.”
Icon is also in discussions with American companies to use the water to grow algae for developing biodiesel fuels.
James says when it comes to salt levels the water in the basin contains 3000 parts per million on average, which is suitable for cattle and irrigation – when the water is too salty it needs to be treated, often through reverse osmosis.
Santos has also announced it will treat water from its projects to plant two million chinchilla white gum trees near Roma.
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