Catholics In Coalition for Justice and Peace

Coal Seam Gas

What is Coal Seam Gas?

Coal Seam Gas is the name given to methane gas stores found in coal seams. These coal seams lie deep underground, and within them are ‘pores’ of gas held in place by large volumes of water. This gas can be mined and used as an energy source. It’s sometimes also known as ‘shale gas’.

Click to open in a new windowThe extraction of coal seam gas involves hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking. Fracking is the process of pumping a fracturing liquid into coal seams at very high pressure in order to crack open fissures in the rock, allowing gas to flow into the well and be collected. The fluid is composed of water, sand and a mixture of chemicals, including potentially toxic agents. The fracturing fluid is then collected and processed.

Why is fracking an issue?

The fracking process has raised huge concerns about the safety and stability of our environment and health. Specifically, there are concerns about the contamination of ground water and drinking water by toxic chemicals used in fracking fluids, the leakage of contaminated drilling waste fluid from storage ponds, the release of volatile greenhouse gases especially methane into the atmosphere, safety concerns about leaking gas wells and even earthquakes induced by the fracking process.

Eastern Australia has very large reserves of coal seam gas, and the industry has experienced extremely rapid growth in the past decade, especially in Queensland.

More information

Dr. Mariann Lloyd-Smith exposes harms of fracking activity in Dublin

Mariann Lloyd-Smith is Senior Advisor to the National Toxics Network and to IPEN, an international public interest NGO. She has worked in the area of chemicals policy and waste management for over two decades and  currently serves on the Technical Advisory Group of the national industrial chemical regulator. Mariann gained her PhD from the Faculty of Law at the University of Technology (UTS), Sydney and has published widely on chemical issues.

See Dr. Lloyd-Smith's speech, which includes lots of Australian examples, at a conference in Dublin on 24th May 2013 by clicking here.


Click to download

Read more in this Check Out on Coal Seam Gas. Credit for this Check Out goes to the Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes in NSW.

Visit the ABC's hub on Coal Seam Gas. Their resources includes an interactive map of gas wells in Australia, videos and infographics.

Watch this 60 Minute report on fracking.

Watch this entertaining music video explaining the basics of fracking.

This diagram of the fracking process is from Pro Publica.