Issues Magazine

Breakthrough helps protect aquifers near CSG



A Brisbane company has developed a new way of using downhole pressure sensors to monitor aquifers in coal seam gas (CSG) fields and reduce the impact of CSG exploration.

The potential for aquifer “cross communication” – where coal-seam drilling and production might trigger water to spill to or from a nearby aquifer – has been the cause of widespread concern among communities and environmental groups.

Now, by installing WellDog’s downhole pressure sensors in observation wells, CSG companies can accurately detect changes as small as 5mm in aquifer water levels. The monitoring occurs in real-time and continuously throughout the life of CSG operations.

WellDog Chief Technology Officer Quentin Morgan said the innovation had received immediate take-up from the CSG industry, with Arrow Energy the first to implement it.

“We have installed 18 sensor packages in five wells for Arrow Energy in the Surat Basin,” Mr Morgan said.

“Along the way, we managed to overcome some significant technical challenges and achieved successful implementation across the target aquifers.

“We anticipate that this technology will become the new standard for CSG companies, as it offers a robust and cost-effective solution to help protect a vital Australian resource – water – while enabling production of another vital Australian resource – coal seam gas.”

WellDog and Arrow Energy collaborated to adapt existing technology, developing unique deployment methods and modifying well design and construction practices.

“Making informed decisions to minimise the impact of CSG operations on the environment and protect vital water resources requires access to accurate and actionable data,” Mr Morgan said.

“We’re proud to have found a way of innovating existing technology to deliver high-quality data about the health of an important resource, with a greater degree of reliability and cost-effectiveness than any alternative options.”