Gloucester council unlikely to back AGL water strategy

AGL's Gloucester Gas Project's Waukivory fracture stimulation.

AGL's Gloucester Gas Project's Waukivory fracture stimulation.

The Gloucester City Council is likely to reject a number of key proposals put forward by power company, AGL Energy in its water management strategy.

AGL published its final draft of its extracted water strategy for the Gloucester Gas Project in New South Wales last week.

AGL’s preferred strategy involves the treatment and desalination of extracted water for central processing facility processes, drilling and fracture stimulation, as well as local irrigation.

The water strategy states that there will be one less holding pond proposed at the Central Processing Facility (CPF) water treatment plant (WTP) in Gloucester, water discharge will be earmarked for the Avon River instead of Dog Trap Creek, there will be substantially lower volumes of treated water discharged into the Avon River and that no discharge of treated water is proposed during low flow periods.

“Taking into account regulator and community comments, a geomorphological and ecological study has been completed to determine the best location for the few occasions when stream discharges are likely to be required for treated water (Cardno, 2015). A location on the Avon River upstream of the confluence of Dog Trap Creek has been recommended,” the report states.

AGL’s wholly-owned coal seam gas Gloucester Gas Project is located in the Gloucester Basin in New South Wales. The project will include about 110 gas wells, a Central Processing Facility for compression and processing of the extracted gas and water treatment, a gas fired electricity generating facility with capacity of up to 15MW and a gas transmission pipeline between the central processing facility and the existing gas supply network at Hexham.

First gas is expected in 2018.

The project’s water management strategy has come under fire in recent months, with claims the company was storing flowback water from pilot wells without holding proper permits.

Flow testing at the project’s Waukivory pilot test program are set to continue over the next six months, with a final investment decision for project expected in 2016.

The water strategy draft will be presented to key government agencies, Gloucester Shire Council and Mid Coast Water with a final version will be submitted to the Department of Planning and Environment.

But Gloucester Shire Council is unlikely to back the revised strategy document, according to Mayor, John Rosenbaum.

“We will discuss it in depth when we get together as council, but at this stage I did notice their request to have the water put into the river and when there is high rainfall events they may have to release some water from their holding ponds,” he said.

“I don’t know if there is any other case where they have been allowed to put it directly into the river or creeks. And that will certainly require us to find out more about what the requirements would be for it to be allowed, or we may simply just reject that aspect altogether.”

While admitting the council is not the decision maker, Mr Rosenbaum did caution the company not to exclude the community’s concerns over the treatment of extracted water.

“Our message is simple, that the company should engage with the community early, and before the decisions are even made. If you do not, the costs are going to be enormous down the track.

“The community feels left out and threatened. And people will immediately go to thinking, ‘what can we put in their way to slow this down’.”

Read the full AGL Gloucester Gas Project – Extracted Water Management Strategy Final Draft HERE.

Eddie Morton is the associate editor of Gas Today:

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