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By Les White


FARMERS and locals are angry coal seam gas exploration is to occur on prime Victorian farm land.

Energy giant ExxonMobil has announced it purchased a 10 per cent interest in the Gippsland CSG exploration licence held by Ignite Energy and intends to explore for CSG.

The exploration licence held by Ignite runs along the Gippsland coast fromWilson’s Promontory to Lakes Entrance and as far inland as Traralgon andRosedale.

The companies plan to put six exploratory wells into the ground.

Victorian Farmers Federation Bairnsdale branch president Rob Grant condemned the plans.

“Prime farmland should be exempt from CSG mining,” Mr Grant said.

He argued local aquifers – underground water reserves – were connected and pollution at one site would pollute groundwater for hundreds of kilometres, devastating farming and the environment.

He was also concerned the mining company could begin buying farms on which it intended to mine, in an attempt to reduce community opposition to any CSG project.

Friends of the Earth spokesman Cam Walker says coal seam gas could damage farmland and water resources.

Friends of the Earth spokesman Cam Walker said the involvement of ExxonMobil would likely speed up the exploration process by providing a financial “shot in the arm” for the project.“ExxonMobil’s entry to the CSG sector should be ringing alarm bells for anyone concerned about the spread of this industry to Victoria. It brings the likelihood of a commercial scale unconventional gas industry a lot closer – with all the impacts on land, agriculture and water that will come with it.”

Community Over Mining spokeswoman Tracey Anton said locals did not want CSG mining in Gippsland.

Former WIN TV political correspondent Rob Herrick said the issue was a tricky one for rural politicians.

Farmers remained angry at the prospect of CSG mining, he said.

Former WIN TV political editor Rob Herrick says farmers remain wary of coal seam gas operations while the issue is a difficult one for the Nationals.

The Victorian Government this week signed up to the national partnership agreement on CSG, although the partnership requires no binding commitments.

Ignite did not respond to request for comment.


Posted: June 13, 2012 by lesg2n in Rural Events, Social Issues

By Les White


CONCERNS over coal seam gas continue to grow as methane bubbles up into Queensland’s Condamine River.

Lock the Gate president Drew Hutton says methane leaks have been detected near coal seam gas wells.

Video shot by anti-CSG group Lock the Gate shows gas bubbling to the surface of the river, which is also used as drinking water for nearby town Chinchilla.

The river is near several CSG wells.

Lock the Gate president Drew Hutton said a local landowner had told the group Origin Energy had confirmed the leak was CSG, otherwise known as coal bed methane, and was testing to see which coal seam the gas was coming from.

“I don’t think there is any doubt this extensive leak is linked to the coal seam gas drilling, and probably fracking (fracturing coal seams by injecting fluid under high pressure), that is occurring in nearby wells,” Mr Hutton said.”This is just one cut in the death-by-a-thousand cuts to the environment that will occur when we have the tens of thousands of wells across rural Queensland.”

Greens environment spokeswoman Larissa Waters said the incident was “yet another in a long line of incidents with CSG”.

“The locals are saying this has never happened before. The state environment department has taken the company’s word for it; that it has nothing to do with the company. It’s the job of the environment department to establish who’s responsible.”

Greens environment spokeswoman Larissa Waters says authorities need to properly investigate methane leaks near coal seam gas wells.

Origin said the bubbling was “probably a natural occurrence” and the Queensland Government issued a statement which said, based on interim advice received from Origin, the “cause of the bubbles was unlikely to be CSG activities”.

Minister for natural resources and mines Andrew Cripps said there were four CSG wells within five kilometres of the methane leak site, with the closest 1.4 kilometres away.