AGL wants to frack for gas at vineyard

POTENTIAL: AGL’s Alison Crocker beside a non-productive gas well compound at the vineyard.  Picture: Peter Stoop
POTENTIAL: AGL’s Alison Crocker beside a non-productive gas well compound at the vineyard. Picture: Peter Stoop

THIS is the property where AGL hopes to first use fracking to harvest coal seam gas  in the Hunter.

The Spring Mountain vineyard, near Broke, is owned by AGL and managed by Hunter vigneron Brian McGuigan.

AGL group manager upstream gas Mike Moraza said the company wanted to develop three flowing coal seam gas wells at the  vineyard.

Mr Moraza said the firm expected to lodge a review of environmental factors and a fracture management plan for the pilot wells early this year.

The environmental review and the management plan will not be made public until the government determines the application.

The vineyard  has a replica  gas well head to demonstrate the industry’s ability to ‘‘co-exist’’ with the wine tourism.

Mr McGuigan said the wells could be camouflaged but he wanted proof fracking of coal seams did not damage underground water supplies.

‘‘I have continued my relationship with AGL so I can keep an eye on what they are doing,’’ Mr McGuigan said.

The Hunter Valley Protection Alliance spokesman Graeme Gibson said a  government report did not justify the lifting of the moratorium and raised more questions than it answered, including that of the use of chemicals in the controversial process.

The Newcastle Herald asked AGL if it intended to use chemicals at the vineyard but it did not respond.

AGL coal  gas push


 GAS company AGL will add to its coal seam gas explorations this month with new test rigs at Broke and Milbrodale.

The ‘‘core’’ drilling programs are expected to start later this month  and take a few months to complete.

An AGL spokeswoman said the Broke hole was on a company-owned property, Yellow Rock, while the nearby Milbrodale property was privately owned.

The Yellow Rock drilling would start in the second half of January, with Milbrodale to follow soon after.

Graeme Gibson of the Hunter Valley Protection Alliance said it was typical of AGL to announce such a divisive program using the camouflage of Christmas.

But the AGL spokeswoman said the program had been widely advertised and communicated to residents.

Mr Gibson said the gas industry was pushing ahead with plans for coal seam gas after the state government ended a moratorium on ‘‘fracking’’ in September.

Mr Gibson said this was despite concerns raised by scientists commissioned by the government, whose advice was released to his group after a freedom of information request.

The advice, which has been given to the Newcastle Herald, says the Gunnedah and Gloucester basins were more likely to need fracking than some of the more permeable Queensland seams.

The advice said most ‘‘well-designed’’ production wells would have ‘‘little or no impact on groundwater provided best practice is followed’’.

But Mr Gibson said coal seam gas was a new industry with little history to go by.

The AGL spokeswoman said the core drills at Broke and nearby Milbrodale would not use fracking.

She said the core holes were about 10centimetres in diameter and between 300 metres and 1500 metres deep, depending on the location of the  seam.

Core holes were steel-lined and  plugged with cement unless needed for more tests.

Each test site covered about 60 metres by 60 metres.

Mr Gibson said AGL’s promotional materials showed test sites ‘‘in isolation’’ but if the industry took hold the various drill sites would be linked above the ground like a lattice. 


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