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gas leak to take days to fix

May 23rd, 2011 Australia



A major gas leak at a coal seam gas well west of Brisbane is expected to take up to three days to fix.


The gas leak happened on Sunday at a remote location west of Dalby, about four kilometres from the nearest residence.

Arrow Energy, the company which operates the well, says it was a new well that was being prepared for gas production.

The well was uncapped to install a pump when water and gas burst to the surface, the company says.

Queensland Fire and Rescue Service crews and Arrow Energy staff have been on site overnight monitoring the situation and have established a 100 metre exclusion zone around the well.

Specialist Mines Department staff have been on site since 6am (AEST) today to find out what went wrong, and staff from the environment department are also assessing the incident.

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Arrow Energy says its incident response team and drilling engineers have developed a plan to stem the gas flow.

“The standard method in this situation involves filling the well with dense drilling fluids (water based drilling muds),” Arrow Energy said in a statement.

“The weight of these fluids acts to prevent the gas flowing to surface.”

The company says it expects the leak to be fixed within the next two to three days.

Friends of the Earth spokesman Drew Hutton says it was the fourth leak to happen on this property.

“Over the last 18 months we have seen pipeline blow-outs, gas migrations and well blow-outs in the Daandine-Wilkie Creek area,” Mr Hutton said.

“How much longer do we have to put landowners’ and workers’ lives at risk in an unsafe industry?”

Mr Hutton says he’s dubious about whether the leak can be fixed quickly.

“They cannot put a metal top on the well for fear of a spark so it will be interesting to see how soon this can be brought under control,” he said.

Queensland Mining Minister Stirling Hinchliffe told AAP there were no public health concerns because of the restrictions which have been put in place.

Mr Hinchliffe said investigators would looking into communication between the landholder, the company and authorities to see if correct protocols were followed.

“It’s important for us to get to the bottom of this instance and be confident that the correct protocols and regulations were being observed,” he said.

The minister said an initial report was due later today and at this stage he did not have all the details.

“While the Queensland government stands ready to take appropriate action we need to have the full information and details before pursuing these sort of issues,” he said.

He assured Queenslanders there would be a full disclosure of the incident.

“We need to make sure the whole community has an understanding and is confident in the strict guidelines and regulations we have in place to regulate this industry.”