CSG safety information for landholders

The Queensland Government has legislated certain safety requirements to minimise the risk to people from petroleum and gas exploration and production, including coal seam gas (CSG). These safety requirements apply to all petroleum and fuel gas operations in Queensland and are:

  • built into resource authority conditions
  • enforceable by law.

Petroleum and gas operators working on your land under a resource authority must identify any hazards and risks associated with their operation. Any identified hazards or risks must be eliminated, or measures implemented to reduce the hazard or risk as low as reasonably practical.

There are dedicated Queensland Government officers who regularly monitor and enforce these safety requirements.

Reporting CSG incidents and concerns

If you have any concerns about CSG operations, please use our online enquiry form or contact the CSG Compliance Unit.

Petroleum and gas safety monitoring and enforcement

Safety in the petroleum and gas industries is regulated under the Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004 and Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Regulation 2004 by the Petroleum and Gas Inspectorate. The Inspectorate regulates naturally produced petroleum and natural gas, including CSG.

All operators must follow all relevant safety requirements such as prescribed standards and codes of practice when carrying out authorised activities under a petroleum and gas resource authority. This includes codes of practice for constructing, abandoning and monitoring wells. There are also strict reporting requirements for all petroleum and gas operators, including notifying us about certain prescribed incidents.

In 2010-11 the Queensland Government implemented an audit program to review and monitor the safety of CSG wells. Read the Coal seam gas well head safety program final report (PDF, 1.1MB) for more information about well head safety in Queensland's CSG industry.

Learn more about petroleum and gas safety in Queensland.

Hydraulic stimulation regulations

Hydraulic stimulation is the process of stimulating the underground formation to increase the flow and recovery of gas out of a well.

Companies by law must notify landholders in writing at least 10 business days before undertaking hydraulic stimulation activities on a property and again within 10 business days of completing those activities. These written notices must list the anticipated and actual composition of hydraulic stimulation fluids used, including chemicals and volumes. This regulatory requirement ensures landholders are fully informed about the type and extent of authorised activities conducted on their land.

Hydraulic stimulation fluids used by companies typically comprise 99% water and sand, with the remaining 1% made up of chemical additives commonly used around the house or farm shed (e.g. soap, vinegar). Full details of chemicals allowed for use in hydraulic stimulation are also available on the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) website.

Learn more about hydraulic stimulation.

Flaring in the oil and gas industry

Flaring is the process of burning flammable substances that are unusable or present a safety hazard if not removed.

Flaring is commonly used:

  • at processing plants to safely remove stored gases in pipes, vessels and tanks during maintenance or emergency shut downs
  • at drilling rigs to safely remove gases encountered when drilling
  • on oil and gas wells until a sufficient quality is achieved to prove the viability of the reserve.

Flares and flaring

A flare is generally comprised of a vertical stack or pipe with a burner at the tip. Other components can be connected to the inlet of a flare and include valves, hoses, pipes regulators and connecting fittings.

  • Permanent flares are usually found at oil and gas processing facilities and are specifically designed as part of the facility.
  • Semi-permanent flares are used for a short-term to medium-term flaring where installing permanent flares is not practical or necessary.
  • Portable flares may be used.

The size and brightness of the resulting flame depends upon how much flammable material is released.

Flaring regulations

Flaring is covered by production and environmental regulations for Queensland's onshore oil and gas industry. There are guidelines for flaring activities near homes and communities.

Flaring of oil and gas test wells is managed under the Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004, which requires that gas should be commercially used wherever possible, and flared if it is not.

Venting the gas (i.e. allowing the gas to escape directly into the atmosphere without burning) is only allowed when flaring is not technically possible or for safety reasons.

Petroleum companies conducting production testing for wells must obtain regulatory approval from the Department of Natural Resources and Mines for any period longer than 30 days (up to a maximum of 13 months) for each well being production-tested in which flaring and/or venting can take place.

The companies must demonstrate in their Production Testing Request to the department that the petroleum products (oil and/or gas) they intend to flare or vent cannot be commercially used because the wells are too far from existing oil and/or gas gathering infrastructure.

Safety controls

Flares must be designed, constructed and operated correctly to ensure the flare stack meets the technical design and operational standards.

The operation of flare equipment is regulated under a company's safety management plan, which assesses the risks of the equipment and their use and ensures proper controls are in place. This includes appropriate exclusion zones and that land is cleared around the flare stack to ensure there is no risk of the flare causing a fire on surrounding vegetation.

Flaring use

Pressure relief valves

Flaring is used when pressure relief valves on equipment automatically release gases (and sometimes hydrocarbon liquids or vapour), which are sent through large pipes called flare headers to flare stacks.

Pilot wells

A pilot well is drilled to test the suitability of a site for gas production, or when a number of wells have been drilled and are producing but not yet connected to a gathering pipeline system for commercial production. Gas pilot wells are currently being tested. Ongoing flares burn gas from pilot wells to dispose of it in a safe and controlled manner. The gas flare is not needed once the well is connected to a gathering system.

Flaring and the environment

Flaring is the one of the safest and most environmentally friendly processes for burning unusable combustible vapours and liquids. While flaring and venting of gas from commercial oil and gas wells is a significant source of gas emissions, their contribution to greenhouse gases emissions worldwide has declined considerably.

Managing noise, light and odour

Under Queensland laws, all petroleum and gas operators are subject to strict environmental assessment processes and must be issued an environmental authority from EHP before they can begin operations on your land.

Petroleum and gas operators must develop an environmental management plan to identify and manage the potential impacts of noise, light and odour.

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