Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Unconventional Gas Needs the Right Support and Controls

By Vaughan Beck

Unconventional gas faces two issues: its role as an energy source and social acceptance.

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Australia needs extensive research, an effective regulatory system and best-practice monitoring to allow it to take advantage of the substantial opportunities offered by unconventional gas resources such as coal seam gas, shale gas and tight gas.

In a social environment that demands reduced greenhouse gas emissions, unconventional gas must be considered as part of the nation’s menu of energy options.

Increased use of unconventional gas for electricity generation could decrease our greenhouse gas emissions but, because of the way it is produced, it could impact on the landscape, ecosystems, surface water and groundwater, the atmosphere and – as a consequence – the communities where it is found and exploited.

Most of the impacts can be minimised with an effective regulatory system and best-practice monitoring , and can be remediated where they do occur.

But if unconventional gas exploration and production is to earn and retain the social licence to operate, we urgently need a transparent, adaptive and effective regulatory system in place, backed by best-practice monitoring plus credible and high-quality baseline surveys. Harmonisation of regulation across Australia would make sense and simplify the future development of unconventional gas resources, which are substantial – many Australian sedimentary basins are prospective for unconventional gas...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.