In April 2020, the CSIRO released the results of a landmark, three-year scientific research program into the impacts of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in Australia, finding it has minimal to no impact on air quality and no detectable impact on local waterways, groundwater or soils.
As part of the CSIRO research, air, water and soil samples were taken before, during and after fracking operations at six wells in Origin’s Reedy Creek Combabula gas field, north-east of Roma. These samples were then analysed to determine if there had been any environmental impacts as a result of the operations.
CSIRO described the research as “the most comprehensive investigation into HF (fracking) activities in Australia to date and represents the leading edge of international onshore gas studies. Independent and relevant scientific research in Australia provides the necessary information for communities, industry and government to make long-term decisions around future well development in our region.”
The comprehensive study included more than 1,000 air samples collected from 13 sites across the Surat Basin, which were analysed for various pollutants and chemical concentrations, 113 water samples from different water sources and 40 soil samples.
The study also found “current water treatment technology used for treating water produced from coal seam gas wells is effective in removing hydraulic fracturing chemicals and naturally occurring (geogenic) chemicals to within relevant water quality guidelines.”
Executive General Manager of Integrated Gas, Mark Schubert, said Origin provided full and open access to the CSIRO scientists to gather their samples onsite and welcomed the extensive testing they conducted.
“Confirmation that fracking has minimal to no impact on groundwater, soil or air quality is important and should provide confidence to the local communities where we operate that we are a safe and environmentally responsible operator.”
“Natural gas continues to play an important role as the world moves towards renewable energy supply, particularly as it can respond quickly to changes in solar and wind output, helping to maintain reliable electricity supply to customers.”
The research was funded through CSIRO’s Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance (GISERA) which industry and Origin contribute to.