Managing produced water from coal seam gas projects: implications for an emerging industry in Australia

Abstract

This paper reviews the environmental problems, impacts and risks associated with the generation and disposal of produced water by the emerging coal seam gas (CSG) industry and how it may be relevant to Australia and similar physical settings. With only limited independent research on the potential environmental impacts of produced water, is it necessary for industry and government policy makers and regulators to draw upon the experiences of related endeavours such as mining and groundwater extraction accepting that the conclusions may not always be directly transferrable. CSG is widely touted in Australia as having the potential to provide significant economic and energy security benefits, yet the environmental and health policies and the planning and regulatory setting are yet to mature and are continuing to evolve amidst ongoing social and environmental concerns and political indecision. In this review, produced water has been defined as water that is brought to the land surface during the process of recovering methane gas from coal seams and includes water sourced from CSG wells as well as flowback water associated with drilling, hydraulic fracturing and gas extraction. A brief overview of produced water generation, its characteristics and environmental issues is provided. A review of past lessons and identification of potential risks, including disposal options, is included to assist in planning and management of this industry.

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Davies, P.J., Gore, D.B. & Khan, S.J. Managing produced water from coal seam gas projects: implications for an emerging industry in Australia. Environ Sci Pollut Res 22, 10981–11000 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-015-4254-8

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Keywords

  • Produced water
  • Coal seam gas
  • Risk management
  • Hydraulic fracturing
  • Treatment and disposal