Australia–– A METHANE fire in a hole on coal seam gas mining land is still burning but how the methane ignited is still unknown.
The Department of Natural Resources and Mines is working with Peabody Energy and Arrow Energy to smother the fire, which is 500mm deep and 500mm wide.
The fire is 1.3km north of the Dalby-Kogan Rd and near the south gate of the Wilkie Creek coal mine operated by Peabody Energy.
Arrow Energy has a petroleum lease for the land the hole is on but has insisted the fire is it not connected to one of their coal seam gas wells.
Records from the Department of Natural Resources and Mines record show the hole is 32-years-old and was drilled by JD Drilling during coal mining activities but had never been filled.
EARLIER, an environmentalist says coal seam gas fires would soon become a common occurence on the Darling Downs, as one blaze continued to burn overnight.
The blaze, which started a small bush fire yesterday morning, is under control but still burning. About 5.30am on Sunday, firefighters were called to Daandine coal seam gas field, west of Dalby, to find a small grass fire stretching 20m.
After the fire was contained emergency services found the source of the blaze – a mining exploration hole leaking methane. And the hole is still ablaze. An emergency services spokeswoman said firefighters were unable to put out the methane flame. Property owners Arrow Energy are now in control of the fire.
Arrow Energy spokesman Miguel Holland said the methane did not come from one of the company’s wells. “It’s on Arrow Energy land but it’s not an Arrow well,” he said.
“We believe it’s an old coal mining exploration hole about 30 years old. “Because we’re close and have the resources the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection asked us to look after it.”
President of Lock the Gate Alliance Drew Hutton said the methane leak was directly linked to coal seem gas mining in the area.
“What happened is no different from what’s happening on much of the western downs,” he said.
“All this gas is coming up through the ground because of the depressurisation of the coal seam by the coal seam gas industry
“It allows methane to migrate wherever it can to find a pathway, through cracks in the ground and even into the Condamine River.”
Mr Hutton said other gas leaks would soon become more common.
“This is only one hole, there’ll be hundreds like right across the western Darling Downs,” he said.
“It’s a major health and safety issue and something the people of the western downs are going to have to live with or evacuate.