Ad blitz masks truth of boom industry – Jason Egbars @jasonegbars reports


Shell’s advertising campaign for coal seam gas in the Ann Street underpass.

By Jason Egbars

Queensland commuters have been hit with an advertising blitz as the coal seam gas industry prepares to increase operations in Queensland.

On Friday, Shell banners adorned a walkway to Brisbane’s Central Station.

The banners made reference to ‘cleaner electricity’ and encouraged passersby to ‘find out why we’re investing in natural gas’.

Shell-owned Arrow Energy plans to invest in the lucrative gas export industry currently being set up by ConocoPhillips-Origin, Santos, and QGC on Curtis Island near Gladstone.

It will be the biggest of its kind for Arrow, which currently has coal seam gas wells in Eastern Australia’s Surat and Bowen basins.

Coal seam gas, exported as LNG, is a multi-billion dollar industry set to boom.

While Arrow is still in the proposal stage, QGC will export in 2014.

QGC ran its own advertisements on south-east Queensland mainstream television from 2011 until recently.

While the advertisements highlighted the benefits of the company, nowhere did they detail QGC’s involvement in the coal seam gas industry.


A still from QGC’s television advertising campaign

Like Shell’s careful use of the term ‘natural gas’ for coal seam gas, QGC’s decision to distance itself from its main form of business signals an industry that is highly controversial.

The dangers of coal seam gas first entered the consciousness of the global mainstream with Josh Fox’s 2010 Emmy award-winning documentary Gasland.

The film reveals the environmental destruction and health impacts caused by coal seam gas mining, including the contamination of local water supply and chronic illness experienced by residents.

These are the dangers of an industry set to radically alter Queensland’s landscape.

Currently there are around 5000 active coal seam gas wells in Queensland, with this number expected to grow to 40,000 by current predictions.

The industry is set to cover prime agricultural land, and opponents argue coal seam gas mining could affect the stability of the south-east Queensland food bowl by contaminating the water table and reducing water supply.

Coal seam gas extraction involves the intense use of water and creates salt and heavy metal byproducts that can contaminate surrounding farmland.

Fracking, a method used in coal seam gas extraction, works by horizontally fracturing the underground rock strata, splintering the rock to release gas from coal seams.

In some cases, this process has caused irreversible damage to aquifers through the release of toxic chemicals.

Methane leaks are an unavoidable byproduct of coal seam gas production, undermining its status as a ‘cleaner’ energy source.

Interviewees in Lock the Gate Alliance’s new documentary Fractured Country spoke of health problems as a result of living close to gas wells.

Earlier this month Tony Abbott promised more environmental health testing for the Tara region, after a Queensland Health report recommended a ‘more strategic ambient air monitoring project be implemented to assess the impact of coal seam gas activities.

In some cases, landowners near gas wells have been able to set alight water running from their taps.

Coal seam gas projects are subject to federal scrutiny under the new ‘water trigger’ legislation of Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC) if considered to have a significant impact on water resources.

The legislation requires projects to be considered, but does not guarantee projects will be stopped if found to be environmentally damaging.

Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane is a strong advocate for coal seam gas production and in September labeled coal seam gas opponents ‘anarchists’.

Lock the Gate Alliance is screening Fractured Country at 7pm this Thursday at South Leagues Club, Brisbane.

Tickets are $10 at the door or available online.














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  1. Great piece Jason, I have been gobsmacked by how far the CSG industry has already gone in Queensland. I reckon most Queenslanders would be staggered by the scale, which is why the PR companies behind these campaigns are being so reticent with the truth.

  2. Add to the mix a complicit and covert government, CSG mines will continue to spread and permanently wreck; farmland, water tables – the entire environment under the guise of “clean electricity”. Just when you think it couldn’t get any worse, business take us further down the rabbit hole.

  3. Carefully chosen words to mask the real nature of the product. Advertising can have a sinister side, not to inform but confuse. NATURAL GAS. What a misnomer. FRACKED former Agricultural land residue and polluted aquifers, gas is anything but natural. The majority of it is being sent overseas making us compete with the higher international price. High profits for a few for a relatively short time in the big scheme of things.

  4. Malcolm Scott says

    Good article Jason. I hope we all stick to science based discussions around the health affects of the CSG industry. It will do us no good taking the approach that some have taken to complain about wind turbines.

    It’s obvious to many at to what we should not be doing. More articles on what we should be doing as an alternative for prosperous satisfying lives would be good as well.

    Only last night I was at a Beyond Zero Emissions presentation where BZE, Australian Electricity Market Operator (AEMO) and Uni NSW studies into the cost for a 100% renewable grid were discussed. The capital required was almost the same as the CSG industry investment that the CEO of Santos spoke of on Q&A last night. The future price of electricity is basically the same for 100% renewable or business as usual. It seems as though we have our priorities wrong, all so that foreign investors make money and only a few Australians benefit.

    More positive stories as well please :)

  5. Subvertisment opportunities? : Put the letters “SG” after the C of QGC (if found on posters); put the word “Green” or “Renewable” after Let’s Go.
    The films Undermining Australia and Fractured Country are showing at Mullumbimby Drill Hall this Friday, 15 Nov, chai & cake from 6.30…