Home' Grower : June 2013 Contents The South Australian Grower -- June 2013
SE vignerons call for
gas mining safeguards
By MALCOLM SUTTON
are calling for a precautionar y
approach to gas mining and
exploration in the region.
Dennis Vice, Highbank Wines
Coonawarra, says sur veys have
found linkages among different
aquifers at different depths.
"That's a concern when you start
looking for gas," he said.
"The extraction affects the pres-
sures on the water table."
The State Government considers
the Otway Basin to be the second
most prospective onshore gas
province after the Cooper Basin.
It is a big feature in the
Government's Roadmap for
Unconventional Gas in South
Australia, released December
2012, which lays out a plan to
mine gas from the State's shale,
tight, and coal seam gas plays.
Mr Vice said the region had an
extensive groundwater system that
stretched into Victoria, and rigor-
ous checks and balances had to be
in place before mining could
"When we talk of scientists, there
has to be transparency in terms of
what information turns up so we
can pursue all aspects of this issue
together," he said.
Leconfield Wines winemaker
Tim Bailey said conventional
drilling had already taken place in
"We've got a gas well on our fam-
ily farm, which is about 10 to 15
kilometres from Coonawarra," he
"There's another gas well being
drilled in Coonawarra here. It was-
n't in among the vineyards as such
but it wasn't very far from them."
Mr Bailey said it was important
that landowners draw up extensive
land repatriation requirements in
their contracts with mining com-
panies when they came onto their
Some mining companies walked
away from a site and left the clean-
ing costs up to the landowner.
"Mum signed up a pretty good
clause in our first contract," Mr
"There's been three different
companies that have owned that
"They ran it for six months and
ran out of gas. Now we're just
waiting to see when they're going
to clean it up."
A new 5657-square kilometre
mining block in the Otway basin
closed for bidding in April, adding
to existing exploration licences that
cover about 4416.9sqkm, includ-
ing 3334.9sqkm targeting shale
gas and basin centred gas.
A Cooper Energy spokesperson
said the Otway Basin had proved
itself as a prospective for conven-
tional gas and was believed to be a
prospective for shale gas.
"The Otway Basin has been the
focus of exploration drilling by
numerous exploration and produc-
tion companies over the years, but
Cooper has not conducted any
From the limited amount of
drilling conducted so far, Cooper
Energy estimates the potential gas
within its acreage to be between 14
trillion cubic feet and 44tcf.
Technologies general manager
Russell Martin said oil and gas
deposits at depths of 2000 metres
or more, such as those targeted for
shale gas, were considered beyond
the economic depth of drilling for
water supplies to support agricul-
"There is significant thickness
(1000m plus) between the com-
mercially exploitable aquifers and
the deeper systems where the oil
and gas are trapped," he said.
"Any hydraulic fracturing of
these deep systems to extract shale
oil or gas is unlikely to penetrate
the 1000m or more of overlying
Hydraulic fracturing involves
forcing a mix of sand, water and
chemicals at high pressure deep
into a well to open up fissures in
the shale and allow gas to escape.
It is used to extract shale gas,
tight gas 100 per cent of the time,
coal seam gas about 30pc of the
time, and very occasionally to res-
timulate conventional gas wells.
Highbank Wines and Accommodation owner Dennis Vice says any gas
mining in the region should proceed with caution.
Big focus on Otway basin
Strong groundwater system
Public consultation sought
Otway Basin the
province after the
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