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Background

Coal seam gas (CSG) production requires the extraction of significant quantities of groundwater in order to lower the pressure in the coal seam sufficiently to allow the gas to flow up the gas well to the surface.

The CSG water extracted from the coal seam, also known as “produced water” or “associated water”, is often salty.

Under Queensland's Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011, CSG proponents are required to identify beneficial uses for this produced water including treating the water for other uses such as irrigation, town water supplies, environmental flows and aquifer recharging.

CSG Water Research in Queensland

This regulatory requirement under Queensland's Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011 has helped to drive further research into the beneficial use of CSG water in Queensland.

  • Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment (OGIA) – the volume of water produced from CSG production varies over time and depends on the hydrogeology of the region. In 2016, OGIA reported that the rate of CSG water extraction is less than initially expected due to the nature of the coal being encountered. The rate of extraction is currently 65,000 megalitres per year. This is likely to peak at about 110,000 megalitres per year in the next few years.

  • Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM) – the DNRM coal seam gas water feasibility study examined the opportunities and risks of using coal seam gas (CSG) water in the Queensland Murray-Darling Basin (QMDB).
    • The Coal Seam Gas Water Feasibility Study provided valuable data about the:
      • likely volumes of production and reliability of CSG water supply and demand in the QMDB and surrounding regions in the next few decades;
      • potential impacts to surface and groundwater systems from CSG water production and disposal; and
      • potential options for using CSG water in the QMDB. Aquifer injection and supply for new or existing irrigation schemes were shown to be the most feasible, because they provide the greatest economic and environmental benefits.

  • Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance (GISERA) – is conducting research into the geochemical response to the reinjection of CSG water.

  • University of Southern Queensland (USQ) – delivers applied, practical and profitable research solutions that strengthen agricultural productivity and environmental management including in the areas of irrigation and natural resource management.

GasFields Commission Queensland's Role

GasFields Commission Queensland's role is to liaise with the scientific community to improve collaboration and communication of the peer reviewed science and research that underpins Queensland's onshore gas industry especially as it relates to other sectors such as agriculture and regional communities.

The Commission liaises with CSG proponents, CSIRO, government, universities and other research agencies to monitor and share information on the research relating to beneficial use options for CSG water.

The Commission has also played a role in liaising with government, landholders and rural groups to help set safe standards for CSG water used for irrigation and other beneficial uses to ensure the environment and community is protected.

Further Reading

Reports and Publications

Selected Peer-reviewed Publications

CSG Water Research in Queensland


CSG Water Research in Queensland Topic Sheet (PDF icon 308 KB)