Ban on use of BTEX compounds in CSG activities

Policy Number TI-O-120   Effective Date 06 Mar 2012   Review Date 20 April 2012

Purpose

To formalise the NSW Government's existing policy banning the use of BTEX compounds in coal seam gas (CSG) drilling and hydraulic fracturing activities.

Scope

This policy applies to all CSG drilling and fracture stimulation activities under the Petroleum (Onshore) Act 19911 .

Note that the Government has imposed a moratorium on new hydraulic fracturing approvals until April 2012.

Policy

  1. The use of the volatile organic compounds benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene (BTEX) in CSG drilling additives and CSG fracture stimulation additives is prohibited.
  2. All CSG drilling additives and CSG fracture stimulation additives must be tested by a NATA-certified laboratory and demonstrated to meet Australian drinking water health guideline values, which are currently:
    1. 0.001 mg/L for benzene
    2. 0.8 mg/L for toluene
    3. 0.3 mg/L for ethylbenzene
    4. 0.6 mg/L for xylene

Procedures

  1. All CSG drilling additives and CSG fracture stimulation additives must be identified in relevant applications for approval under the Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991.
  2. The BTEX concentrations in these additives must be demonstrated to comply with Australian drinking water health guideline values.
  3. Samples of CSG drilling additives and CSG fracture stimulation  additives may be taken at any time by NSW Trade & Investment to verify compliance with this policy.

Roles and responsibilities

  • CSG titleholders: Responsible for ensuring drilling and fracture stimulation activities comply with the Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991 and this policy.
  • NSW Trade & Investment – Division of Resources & Energy (Environmental Sustainability Unit) Officers: Responsible for enforcement of this policy.

Delegations

  • N/A

Legislation

  • Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991
  • Petroleum (Onshore) Regulation 2007
  • Conditions of petroleum titles.

Related policies

  • NSW Government Strategic Regional Land Use Policy.

Other related documents

Media releases by the Hon Chris Hartcher Minister for Resources and Energy:

Definitions

BTEX
The volatile organic compounds benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene.
Coal seam gas
Methane derived from coal beds.
Drilling
The process of constructing a drill hole or petroleum well.
Drilling additives
Includes all substances (gas, solid or liquid) injected into the ground during drilling with the exception of water.
Fracture stimulation
The process of pumping fluids at high pressure down a well bore and into a target rock formation to produce fractures and stimulate the flow of natural gas or oil. This definition includes all stages of the fracture stimulation process, e.g. fracture inducement, propping and flushing.
Fracture stimulation additives
Includes all substances (gas, solid or liquid) injected into the ground during fracture stimulation with the exception of sand and water.
Hydraulic fracturing
See "fracture stimulation".
Australian drinking water health guideline values
NHMRC, NRMMC (2011)Australian Drinking Water Guidelines Paper 6 National Water Quality Management Strategy. National Health and Medical Research Council, National Resource Management Ministerial Council, Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra.

Superseded documents

This policy replaces:

  • N/A
Revision history
Version Date issued Notes By
1 20/12/2011 Policy applied to "hydraulic fracturing" generally Director Environmental Sustainability
2 4/3/2012
  • Policy limited to CSG activities
  • CSG drilling additives added
  • Policy to be superseded by the implementation of a regulation banning the use of BTEX compounds in CSG drilling and fracture stimulation additives
Director Environmental Sustainability

Review date

April 2012, or on implementation of a regulation superseding this policy.

Contact

Environmental Sustainability Unit
(02) 4931 6605
coalseamgas.minres@industry.nsw.gov.au

1Fracture stimulation is an activity that requires approval under the conditions of titles granted under the Petroleum (Onshore) Act 1991

.