We are committed to communicating clearly with the Mid West community.
We operate openly, transparently and in good faith with everyone we deal with.
AWE in the community
AWE is an Australian Securities Exchange listed company that is focused on international upstream oil and gas exploration and production. The Company currently has four oil and gas production assets in three different countries.
In 2008 AWE merged with Arc Energy which has been operating in the Perth Basin for decades. AWE employs 30 full time employees and contractors in Western Australia, of which 10 are located in the Mid West. During exploration programs, this number increases.
In a purely financial sense AWE contributes more than $6 million a year to the Mid West economy through wages, supply and service contracts with local businesses and community partnerships. That is a considerable contribution, but our contribution isn’t just financial.
Our staff are part of the Mid West community, the gas we produce helps fuel the Western Australian economy as well as providing heating and cooking to Western Australian homes and we are active in the community to ensure the Mid West remains a great place to live.
AWE engages extensively with the local community of each project. We have held community information meetings, placed advertisements in the local paper before and after each meeting and have direct mailed local residents.
In addition we have held numerous discussions with the local shires so that community leaders are aware of our plans and can provide feedback. We’ve also established a dedicated Mid West website so that people can access relevant local information at www.awemidwest.com.au.
Further engagement is planned as AWE develops its forward exploration and development plans. AWE is also a signatory to the Western Australian Onshore Gas Code of Practice for Hydraulic Fracturing.
Absolutely it can, and the Mid West is a perfect example of this. Since the 1960s, more than 200 oil and gas wells have been drilled in the Perth Basin and gas has been produced from six fields, while agriculture and tourism have flourished. This proves these industries can coexist.
Yes. AWE negotiates voluntary land access agreements with landowners on whose property we will be drilling.
We acknowledge we are using their property and seek to fairly compensate them for the disruption to their cropping and grazing programs.
Of course. AWE treats landowners and their land with a high level of respect.
Prior to any clearing or site activities, the project specific Environment Plan, which addresses rehabilitation requirements, is reviewed and assessed by the Department of Mines and Petroleum. The rehabilitation requirements are based on results of environmental studies undertaken to establish baseline conditions.
The land is rehabilitated under strict regulations established by the DMP and in consultation with the landowner until completion criteria is achieved.
Most of AWE’s drilling and facility locations in the Mid West are located on already cleared agricultural land, which means we are not clearing any native vegetation for our operations.
In most cases, the site work will include an access road, water bore access and the well pad. The ground disturbance can result anywhere from 3 – 5 hectares.
Well bores are made up of multiple layers of steel casing and cement, which forms a multi-stage barrier to separate the well bore and the subsurface geology. This approach ensures there are multiple layers between the well bore and the subsurface aquifers.
To ensure and assess the well bore’s structural integrity during operations, we continually monitor pressure in the well bore and in the annulus between steel casings to ensure the well integrity is maintained.
That is extremely unlikely. AWE pressure tests the well bore at each stage of the casing and cementing process to ensure the well bore is stable and safe.
In addition, the well is monitored 24/7 during drilling, so we know exactly what is occurring subsurface and can react accordingly to any potential issues.
Every well AWE plans is specifically designed to suit the local geological environment of that well bore position. If the studies showed that a well posed any unmanageable risk, we simply would not drill it.
That largely depends on the nature and geological setting of the formation we are targeting. Both techniques have been used safely for decades.
There are several factors preventing this occurring during AWE operations.
For a start, because the target zones are at depth, there is usually 1-2 kilometres of impermeable rock that separates the target zone from the aquifer. The pressure used to fracture the target zone is not sufficient to fracture further than planned.
The fractures are designed based on extensive geological analyses, so that they do not extend out of the target zone. Fractures are controlled and monitored during hydraulic stimulation operations to ensure:
- Environmental protection
- Economic efficiency (gas escaping out of the target zone is lost production, targeted fractures are less costly)
The geological make-up of the tight sandstones and shales mean that the fractures extend horizontally. When they do extend vertically, it is mostly, but not exclusively, in a downward direction.
Hydraulic fracturing and chemical disclosure
The fluid used for hydraulic fracturing is made up of approximately 99.5% water and sand and 0.5% of chemicals, which are used to improve the transportation of sand, prevent the growth of bacteria, reduce mineral blockages and prevent well corrosion over time.
Many of the chemicals found in hydraulic fracturing fluid can be found in everyday household items.
If the company decides it will hydraulically fracture a well, AWE (in line with State regulation since 2012) is required to fully disclose all chemicals used during drilling operations, including those used in any hydraulic fracturing operation.
The chemicals are assessed and approved by the DMP for use and then made publicly available on their website, as well as on AWE’s website. You can find links to these documents on each of the Project pages.
Any chemicals stored on-site are stored in accordance with regulations, inside lined bunds and fenced areas.
Before drilling operations begin, AWE undertakes baseline water quality studies and then conducts water quality monitoring during and after drilling operations and reports the results to regulatory authorities.
The monitoring program, including the proposed sampling method and location, is developed with advice from the Department of Water. The sampling procedure is conducted by a qualified independent technician with sign off from the landowner and company at the time of acquisition.
The samples are comprehensively analysed by a NATA certified laboratory and copies of the analysis provided to the landowners and appropriate regulatory body.
When AWE negotiates its land access agreements with the local landowner, part of that process is deciding what will happen to the infrastructure such as water bores.
In the majority of cases, landowners request that the water bore remains for their future use and benefit.
No, the majority of wells do not. Many wells have sufficient porosity and permeability to flow without additional stimulation. Other wells require stimulation at depth to liberate the gas.
Water management – above and below ground
Aquifers will be protected by both natural and mechanical barriers. Our own mechanical barrier is the multiple layers of steel casing plus cement, providing multiple barriers between the well and the aquifer.
Natural barriers exist in the sub-surface structural formation of impermeable rock layers, which prevent the migration of any hydrocarbons to surface aquifers.
In addition, AWE has introduced baseline water quality studies and measures and reports the results of post-drilling water quality studies to the regulators. This monitoring provides AWE and regulators with early indicators should any leakage occur. We are confident there will be no leakage due to the safety measures in place; however the monitoring shows these measures are working.
During the production phase of a well, which could last 10 to 40 years, we maintain well integrity with production tubing casing and packer systems, which isolate hydrocarbon production from the subsurface.
The well casing internals casings are protected by various means including maintained by cathodic protection and corrosion inhibitor treatments. Any decommissioned wells are plugged with cement to prevent leakage.
Both have been debunked. View here: http://energyindepth.org/multimedia/gasland-ii-debunked-video/
2a. The flaming tap (faucet) in Gasland.
The issue was investigated before Gasland was released. The Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission found that: “Dissolved methane in well water appears to be biogenic [naturally occurring] in origin. … There are no indications of oil & gas related impacts to water well.” (complaint resolved 9/30/08, signed by John Axelson of COGCC)
2b. The flaming hose in Gasland II
It was the subject of court action. The Texas District Court found the landowner conspired with a local consultant to: “…intentionally attach a garden hose to a gas vent – not to a water line – and then light and burn the gas from the end of the nozzle of the hose. The demonstration was not done for scientific study but to provide local and national news media a deceptive video, calculated to alarm the public into believing the water was burning … [and] alarm the EPA.”
Learn more about the court action findings.
AWE typically plans to use between approximately 4,000-6,000kL, for drilling a traditional vertical well. This amount includes the water for the camp and drilling operations.
To put this into perspective that is the equivalent of two-and-a-half Olympic-sized swimming pools. For example, the drilling and hydraulic fracture of AWE’s Woodada Deep well used 0.04 per cent of the total allocation for water extraction from the Lesueur Aquifer.
Depending on whether the fractures are done on a vertical or horizontal well, the volume of water varies. On average, to hydraulically fracture a vertical well it would take 600Kl to complete a three stage fracture operation.
To fracture a horizontal well (with a horizontal reach of one kilometre) using ten fracture stages, around 20,000Kl would be used for the operation. This equates to roughly 8.4 Olympic sized swimming pools worth of water.
As a comparison the average water allocation to irrigate a 10 hectare vegetable crop in WA for one year is up to 150,000Kl of water or 60 Olympic sized swimming pools.
Source: Natural Gas from Shale and Tight Rocks Fact Sheet (WA Department of Mines & Petroleum)
Water for all drilling operations will be obtained from either a local existing water bore or a new bore will be constructed if necessary.
Water extraction and water bore construction is licensed by the Department of Water (DoW). AWE establishes monitoring or observation bores within proximity of operations following consultation with DoW.
Hydraulic fracturing has been used for decades. In the past 10 years it has become more sophisticated and therefore more widely used. In Western Australia more than 700 wells have been hydraulically fractured since the 1950s.
In short, AWE and its predecessor companies have drilled more than 80 wells in the Mid West. Three tight gas wells have been tested during AWE’s North Perth Basin exploration program, with eight separate zones hydraulically fracture stimulated.
No environmental impacts have been detected from AWE activities .
The Perth Basin is a stable area with inactive faults as seen by the lack of natural seismic events. This means earthquakes are not a significant hazard for AWE operations in the region.
Nevertheless, AWE addresses the issue of seismic events during its project planning and impact assessment phases. The assessment uses results of AWE’s seismic monitoring which provides valuable information on the site specific characteristics and ensures well design and wastewater management are conducted safely.