The SMH reports the coal seam gas industry has hit a spot of turbulence after a well blow out in Queensland - Blow-out at well fuels concerns over coal seam gas.
THE safety reputation of the gas sector has taken a battering after a well blew out in Queensland and a dangerous ''planking'' act was carried out on top of a 60-metre gas flare tower in South Australia.
The sacking of two Santos workers who carried out the prank on top of the Whyalla flare tower was overshadowed yesterday when a gas well operated by Shell and PetroChina blew out for reasons that are uncertain. The blow-out was triggered when workers tried to install a pump and created a pressurised spout of water and gas which spewed for more than 24 hours until it was plugged.
The farmer who owns the land around the well said it was the fourth gas-related incident on the property in five years, denting efforts by the gas sector to build confidence in the controversial practice of tapping coal seam gas.
Rival coal seam gas operators were seething over the potential damage to the sector's image and the Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh, said the joint venture company - Arrow Energy - would be subject to a ''thorough investigation''.
Coal seam gas has prompted concern among farmers over land access and water quality issues and environmentalists are worried about the pumping of chemicals into wells and aquifers. A theatre company in Queensland has been subjected to a boycott campaign because it accepted sponsorship from the gas company QGC.
Over on the west coast Woodside are slowly creeping towards approval of the expansion of the Pluto natural gas LNG plant - Pluto expansion moves step closer.
OIL and gas producer Woodside Petroleum is a step closer to its goal of expanding the $14 billion Pluto project, after discovering more gas off Western Australia.
Analysts were speculating last night that Woodside may now have enough gas to push ahead with a second processing train at Pluto, after it announced success in its Xeres well in the Carnarvon Basin. The Xeres well and the nearby Martin well have long been touted as holding the key to Woodside's expansion hopes, and yesterday's announcement revealed the company had intersected 51 metres of gross gas within the triassic target at Xeres.
The well depth exceeded three kilometres and the discovery had been confirmed by several methods, including with the recovery of gas samples to the surface. The discovery is the seventh in the region and comes after 100 metres of gross gas was discovered at the Martin field in March.
Citi analyst Mark Greenwood said the Xeres find was relatively small, but might be enough to get the second stage of Pluto over the line. ''I think they've probably got enough gas,'' he said. ''They've been aiming to get about 3 trillion cubic feet of gas or more. ''They've made seven discoveries, so each of these discoveries have been pretty small and this one might get them to the threshold or slightly above the threshold.''