Coal seam gas (CSG) in Australia is becoming the largest provider of energy, estimated to reach 80% of Australia’s energy produced in power plants fuelled by natural gas, sourced from coal seams. (Australian Pacific LNG, 2012) Australia has become a large exporter of the world’s natural gas supply, shown in 2006 where 160 million tons of natural gas was exported around the world, generating large revenue for Australia. (Lock the Gate Alliance Ltd, 2014)
Social sustainability factors including human rights, wellbeing of residence, safety, accessibility, heritage, equity and religious and cultural sensitivities are all elements which are involved in social sustainability. (Sydney, 2014). Social sustainability aims to ensure that generations of residence, have fair and accepted rights in all actions taken within their area. Environmentally sustainability involves making decisions and acting on those decisions to protect the environment and sustain global life systems indefinitely (Goodland, 1995). Throughout Australia, CSG mining impacts on society and the environment in many ways. Socially CSG benefits Australia’s economy through its exports to other countries, Land access rights is the largest issue of CSG mining in Australia, as corporations have been able to access and use private land without authorization. Environmentally CSG is an extremely low carbon output compared to coal and other fuels. The mining and extraction of CSG, including the method of fracking and using chemicals to extract the gas, can cause extreme environmental degradation, including degraded and unusable land and contaminated water.
Coal seam gas in Australia:
Coal seam gas is a unconventional natural gas made up of 95-97% methane gas (CH4) which is absorbed by coal in coal seams through forces from water and ground pressure around 300m-1000m underground. (Lock the Gate Alliance Ltd, 2014) The underground coal and gas are formed from plant matter under pressure and high temperatures for millions of years.
To release the gas form the coal, a vertically well is drilled through the coal seam, seel and cement castings are formed in the well to prevent cross-contamination into water aquifers. This allows the water and ground pressure must be released, allowing the water and gas mixture to be pumped from the coal seam. The water and gas are separated and the gas is them piped to processing facilities where the gas is dried, compressed and fed into commercial pipelines. It can then be used for commercial and industrial areas such as cooking and heating as well as in industrial processes and electricity generation. (Cameron, 2011)
To increase the productivity of CSG wells, a process called Hydraulic fracturing stimulates and accelerates the flow of coal seam gas. Fraccing is the process of injecting sand, water and chemicals into the coal seam gas wells at high pressure into a bed of rock to increase the geological fracturing of bed rock and the coal seams....