More Burning Water Fracking Hype: Aussie CSIRO says Methane Emissions are "Natural".


Guest essay by Eric Worrall

An Aussie Green politician has attracted publicity, by “setting fire” to water in an Australian river, as part of a propaganda attack against local gas fracking operations. But CSIRO scientist Damian Barrett has been quick to dismiss the scare, stating that methane seeps are well known in the area, and that the methane in the video is likely from natural sources.

River on fire in Greens MP’s video is natural, not fracking, says CSIRO

Jeremy Buckingham says scientists ‘making excuses’ for CSG industry after footage shows him touching off sheet of flame on the Condamine river.

The CSIRO has defended its independence after a Greens MP, whose footage of burning methane on a Queensland river went viral, accused the government-funded research body of “making excuses” for the coal seam gas industry.

Jeremy Buckingham, a member of the New South Wales parliament’s upper house, posted the video, which showed him lighting the surface of the Condamine river with a barbecue lighter and sending flames licking around the boat, on his Facebook page on Friday. By Sunday it had been shared 13,000 times and had 2.2m views.

The CSIRO began studying methane seeps in 2012 in the Condamine river, which is near Chinchilla, about 300km west of Brisbane, after locals reported seeing bubbles. The gas is most evident at an area called Pumphole where the video was filmed. It is just over 5km from the gas field but there is a gas well within 900m, according to Buckingham.

Speaking to Guardian Australia, Buckingham said it was “implausible” that the gas flow was not linked to the coal seam gas industry, which expanded in the area in 2011.

“It would be the most remarkable coincidence that the very thing that we warned would happen has happened in the middle of a gas field and it’s totally unrelated,” he said.

But Professor Damian Barrett, research director of the CSIRO’s onshore gas programme, insisted it was “unlikely” that the gas seep was linked to fracking in the region.

Barrett said there were naturally occurring fissures in the rock in that part of the Darling Downs where, owing to the coal beds being less than 100m from the surface, methane had been known to leak out. At least four of those fissures are in a 3km stretch of the Condamine river, including Pumphole.

When even the über green Guardian dismisses an environmental scare story, that story is busted.

The video of the “burning river” publicity stunt:

101 thoughts on “More Burning Water Fracking Hype: Aussie CSIRO says Methane Emissions are "Natural".

  1. Greenies…would rather let natural methane (an evil ‘greenhouse’ gas 100 times more potent than CO2) escape into the Atmosphere rather than safely ‘burning’ it, thereby reducing it’s ‘greenhouse’ potential to that of its components; CO2 and H2O!!!
    Poor gullible, scientifically confused Greenies!

      • It’s snowing in Northern Vermont this morning as well. The locals are less than enthused about this development.

      • Strange that. I could have sworn that there is a USA law that prohibits us from signing such an accord. But that of course presumes that we have a government, that actually abides by any laws that we have.
        Well we do have a government that does what the US voting public wants it to do; after all they voted to put such a government in control of our destiny; even though we were told that under their direction, the cost of electricity would necessarily sky rocket.
        I would bet that there are even readers of WUWT, who actually voted for such a government, that simply ignores the laws on the books. Probably some of them even voted for them twice, even after watching them thumb their noses at the law of the land.
        So we will have to wait until we have a non rogue government, willing to obey the law. Looks like that won’t occur for about another nine years of the present official lawlessness.
        By that time, it will likely be too late.

      • One has to wonder if this Person realized that by Igniting the Methane bubbling up in the river, he would be responsible for transferring the CH4 into the much longer lived and hated CO2 green house heat trapping gas that Greenies despise

      • There was snow in the City of London today too. And a heavy snowshower in my corner of Kent and Surrey this evening. So far this appears to be the coldest warmest year evah.

    • You got that right.
      NEWSFLASH: They are cracking in that area BECAUSE there is so much gas in the ground!
      The old Texas wildcatters where known to be able to detect a good spot to drill just by smell. Which makes a lot if sense…if there is a large amount of something volatile, which is also under pressure, under the ground and also near the surface, some is gonna leak out here and there.
      I think some of those ones who made it rich would just drive around with the windows down, and that is how they prospected for new places to drill.
      Gas seeps are common in the Gulf of Mexico,off the Coast of California, and many other locales around the world. And not just gas but oil can seep out all by it’s little moleculed self

      • True that.
        TX, OK and WV well tap water no longer has to be burned off in the mornings because….. the fracking removed the products.
        Florida beach tar balls are greatly less then what we enjoyed in the 1970s.

      • Well one of my favorite fishing spots in California, is the lake on the Nacimiento River near Paso Robles CA, which just happens to be a long time oil producing region. There’s more of those iron grasshopper pumps there than you can count. And as you run up the Nacimiento Canyon to reach the spring fishing grounds, there is natural gas bubbling up all over the place. Never tried lighting it, and it does tend to screw up your sonar structure finder.

      • So, drilling in those places of seeping gas will obviously cut the seeps, once you are extracting the goods down below and so relieving the pressure. Environmentally beneficial, right? The “burning river” will no longer burn once fracking is going full bore — so shouldn’t the greenies’ scenario actually be evidence in favor of drilling?

      • NZ Willy…

        …so shouldn’t the greenies’ scenario actually be evidence in favor of drilling?

        The answer is yes, it should be. But, they are often both delirious and fervent in their defense of gaia. I used to live in Ventura County, CA, (just northwest of LA) and am very familiar with natural seeps. Oil seeps out of the ground and into the ocean ALL THE TIME! See the article at the link I’ve provided. It is a bit old (2008) but precisely confirms your point.
        Some key excerpts…
        “Now a resident of Santa Barbara and a member of the air quality board, Allen — who is writing a book on energy policy — discovered during the course of his research that in the 38 years since the moratorium on oil drilling in the Santa Barbara Channel and off-shore California, an estimated 900 barrels of crude oil have leaked from the production platforms visible off the the coast. In contrast, he points out, the seeps have leaked an estimated two million barrels.”
        “He said that most Santa Barbara residents are surprised to learn that their oil problem — and gasoline is now selling for more than $5 a gallon around town — is a natural one, not man-made.”
        “Given the offshore oil industry’s safety record over the last 38 years, his group believes the oil can be extracted safely, which will reduce in natural oil and gas seepage, resulting in environmental benefits. Gradually depleting the oil over 25 years will not only reduce the amount of seepage that is polluting the water and air off Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, but will provide the funds needed to develop the state’s solar economy.”

      • and WV well tap water no longer has to be burned off in the mornings because….. the fracking removed the products.

        It is not the WV “Hillbillies” that are the stupid ones, ……it is the out-of-Staters that actually believe the tall-tales, rumors and lies that are the ones that are severely Learning Disabled.
        Any Hillbilly that is lucky enough to have a steady supply of NG escaping from their dug/drilled well water ….. is also smart enough to install a “separator/collector” atop of that water well and pipe that NG into their home for heating and cooking purposes. One only needs 3 to 4 ounces of NG pressure for gas appliances to function correctly.

    • @ charles 1:02 pm, The minute I saw him doing that I was going to send him a thank you note for burning it off to prevent larger explosions!

  2. This fracking scare story from Australia was the lead item in Russia’s RT news service a couple of days.
    That seemed a little strange until you realise Russia’s Gazprom (the world’s largest natural gas producer) is one of the world’s leading propagandists against fracking and widely believed to be funding the disinformation campaigns of Greenpeace etc.
    Wherever coal seams are close to surface, it is highly likely there will be methane gas leaks. In any event, most commercial fracking takes place at depths comfortably exceeding 1,000 metres (3,280 feet) and could not be responsible for surface methane leaks.
    Most climate alarmist stories are like this one, highly sensationalist, but with little or no substance.

    • So not only are you attacking the greens you are after the commies as well go on ya. I have lit fires all over and never have I seen water burning no wonder you lot believe in god our saviour you will believe anything.
      Let me guess mister csiro has a job to protect?

      • Mark, the water doesn’t burn in the video. The gas bubbling in the water was burning. You have missed the point, most impressively.

      • Mark said:

        I have lit fires all over and never have I seen water burning

        Mark, iffen ya wanna see water burning ….. then just drop a big hunk of metallic sodium into it.
        And iffen ya evah get around to “lighting fires all over” West Virginia or Kentucky ….. ya best be mighty careful because there are numerous natural “weeps” of coal-bed methane (NG) that might flare-up on yu and burn off all your arm-pit hairs.

      • Mark, have you ever been to Siberia? Do they frack there?

        Or have you seen Josh Fox of Gasland fame admitting that the gas came out of the taps years before fracking started?

      • So you’re a fire bug then. I would have thought that nobody would ever light a fire anywhere in Australia, except in their Weber barbie after tossing a few more shrimp on the grill.

      • CSIRO are well known in Australia for being as alarmist as they come. This story was too dumb even for THEM to sanction. I don’t live too far from the area involved. I knew it was utter crap the moment I read it, from personal and anecdotal experience. Said so in the local paper. Oh Boy, didn’t people like me cop it from the “who cares it’s evil” crowd…
        Truth? Not relevant, it seems, to Greens.

  3. Hi from Oz. Yes, Eric, ‘propaganda’ is the correct term (aka ‘lying for a political purpose’) for this nonsense, and unfortunately it seems no one in the MSM seems to understand this tactic by the Greens and their fellow-travellers. And perhaps no one in our education system for the past 40 years or so seems to have taught their students the meaning of the word. I personally can’t remember when I last saw the word in the MSM, except maybe to unjustly accuse a right-wing government member when they were merely criticising the Left. Kudos to the CSIRO for speaking up (and getting quoted by the Grauniad)!

    • The MSM does actually understand the propaganda and where it is wrong. They don’t care. The just want to promote the story, either because they want to push the peculiar leftist beliefs, or just to make a stoush they can show. The result is the same.

    • Yes. It’s heartening to see actual scientific statements being made by the CSIRO, including a measure of uncertainty.

  4. It always useful to find new resources.
    Kudos to the politician for facilitating the growth of a new extraction industry in the area.

      • gnome, we are a dry land with many drought declared areas. Lighting a fire in the time of a complete ban is worth jail time down here. (And wouldn’t that be fun?) 🙂

      • The problem with burning a river is the fire tends to go where the fuel is. There is an awful lot of dry tinder around the rivers in the fall. Brush fires get out of hand very quickly and burn down people’s homes and livelihoods. This guy put a lot of people at risk!

  5. What I hope is that one of these eeedjiots sets fire to their boat & themsleves on camera, for the world to see their stupidity! As Einstein said, “there are only two things that are infinite, the Universe, & Human stupidity!”

    • That Team may be very certain of one thing.
      Their jobs are no longer certain .
      It never hurts to shoot a few (metaphorically speaking) to let the rest know where they stand.

  6. Yeah, I’ve had that gormless video pushed at me by a couple of sources. Of course, if methane (“natural gas”) were so abundantly available in surface sources, why would extraction outfits have to bear the costs of deep-level shafts, dirigible horizontal drilling, case-casting, fractional perforation, and hydraulic fracturing to bring up such stuff from thousands of feet down?
    Isn’t environmentalism really a “hire-the-mentally-handicapped” program?

    • …more and more it seems that the climate consensus has created great job opportunities for the morally challenged.

  7. Seems to me that the Greens should be backing the CSG industry and supporting their move to remove the naturally occurring – and uncontrolled leaking methane – from this mine, bringing it to the surface in a more controlled manner and allowing the populace to benefit from the fuel gathered. In the meantime, all this idiot MP has demonstrated is what happens in all gas and oil wells: flaring off.

  8. I notice the supposed CSG does not appear to have poisoned the water, created massive fish kills….yada yada yada

  9. Seem to me that some enterprising Aussie.
    Should float a tarp over that seep and pump the gas into a gas bottle.
    Then take it home to the bar-bee and char a few prawns and ribs.

  10. Buckingham demonstrates that he is well qualified to be a politician – looking for a gas leak with a naked flame.

  11. Another Green liar exposed. Perhaps this one will not get as much play as the ‘Gasland’ lie.

    • Hunter
      Is there any deception, any lie that greens won’t tell?
      Nothing comes to mind. It is all for The Worthiest Cause.
      The Fate of The Universe Is At Stake.
      Jeremy must have a favourite song.
      As June Carter wrote and Johnny Cash sang (sorta)… I fell into a burning River of Fire…and it burns…burns…burns …that River of Fire…That River of Fire…C’mon Jeremy… Sing Along…And it Burns,Burns, Burns …That River of Fire… That River of Fire.

  12. Fracking, for the greenies, is a case of be careful what you ask for because you just might get it. Surely the very existence of the fracking industry is a reaction to all this global warming fear mongering. When you point your finger because your plan fell through, you’ve got three long fingers pointing back at you…

  13. When I lived in Los Angeles, CA I learned that there are petrochemical seeps in MANY places, not just the La Brea Tar Pits. Wherever gas or oil-bearing rock formations are near the surface seeps can develop. Oil was discovered in Texas by natives before Europeans arrived, seeping from the soils. The seeps tell you where the gas and oil is, and they are the first places to be prospected.

    • My dad worked in the oil industry (a long time ago), and he used to tell me about this sort of thing.
      Back before a lot of the modern oil exploration techniques were perfected, one of the “high tech” ways they used to look for oil and gas deposits near the surface was to drive around in a truck with an optical spectrometer that was hooked up to an air collection tube. When they went near places like the one in the article, they’d see a natural gas signature in the spectrometer. It wasn’t very precise, but it would occasionally find one of those near-surface deposits.
      Before that, in the early days, they’d just talk to people about “burning water” from water wells. I knew some people in East Texas that had water like that back in the 1920s, and there wasn’t an oil well within thirty miles of the place at the time.

      • See my comment above.
        Somewhere between burning water and seeps, and spectrometers, must have been the ” drive around and sniff” method. I wonder if anyone ever trained a bloodhound to sniff for hydrocarbons?
        The Huckleberry Hound method?
        Come to think of it, Jed Clampett had his bloodhound with him with he discovered all that Texas Tea on his poppity, no?

  14. what a lot of you seem to be missing is..the fact the companies want unfettered rights TO owned land with little to no renumeration to the owners..while their trucks and pumps etc damage farmland. scare animals and make a major bloody mess!
    and sorry guys but if they cant frack with nothing but water n sand and maybe some guar gum
    no chem crap
    then dont do it!
    unlike america we do NOT have many rivers or alt water sources
    most artesian isnt sweet
    the little we have we want to stay clean thanks.
    and this is being pushed WHILE your own usa cos are shutting down n going bankrupt?
    as the cost to extract is far in excess of market prices paid. in usa
    well its shitloads MORE expensive here!
    many of our qld gas sites are selling up the entire camp lock stock n barrel so to speak
    yet our moronic govt is approving still?
    and areas of scenic and tourism commercial return are targeted for this?
    when we have abundant nat gas elewhere in the middle of nothing without fracking a damn thing?
    we are flogging off our LPG to china and others for F-all .o5c or so
    while we pay 80+c a litre for our trucks n cars on lpg to run.
    weve got anough OFFshore oil gas that we do NOT NEED to be doing this at all

    • Easy there cheif, you might bust a vessel.
      Even the ultra- greeny US EPA has confirmed that, despite all the scaremongering, there has never been a single documented instance of properly cracked well contaminating any surface Waters or even aquifers.
      And no, as to your other point. Romours of the death of the tracking industry have been much exaggerated.
      Cheers mate!

      • Russ, actually there are very few badly cased wells. Ground water contamination from wells, even in our shared homeland of H town, is practically zero.

    • I thought the Australian desalinization plants, that cost billions to build an operate, were “alt water sources”.

  15. Fishermen used to use dynamite in the Condamine river decades ago, one wonders if this has helped the process of methane escaping 60 years later

  16. From the State of Queensland, Department of Natural Resources and Mines…

    Summary Technical Report – Part 1 Condamine River Gas Seep Investigation
    December 2012
    Version 1.0
    Executive summary
    The LNG Enforcement Unit (LNGEU) was contacted by a landholder on 17 May 2012, regarding the observation and possible causes of bubbling in the Condamine River approximately six kilometres downstream of Chinchilla Weir. Preliminary investigations indicated that the bubbling was unlikely to be caused by coal seam gas (CSG) activities in the region. However, in anticipation of further sites or incidences being discovered, including further information provided by Origin (on behalf of Australia Pacific LNG) indicating that gas bubbling in the Condamine River was occurring at additional sites, the government implemented a two-phase multi-agency investigation.
    Coordinated by the LNGEU, the government’s Condamine River gas seep investigation comprises an immediate focus on ensuring public safety, assessing environmental harm and the extent of gas seeps (Phase 1); and a long-term investigation involving a technical program that will allow government experts to verify the information it receives from Origin (Phase 2). Concurrently, Origin has adopted a three-phase long-term investigative approach.
    1 Introduction
    1.1 Background

    All of the nearby Origin wells are cased and are not part of a producing field. Further, there are no CSG pipelines in the immediate vicinity, while the nearest production fields are approximately 10 kilometres away from the location. Additionally, there was no evidence of hydraulic fracturing having occurred within 40 kilometres of the reported bubbling.
    Based on this information, the Unit advised the landholder that the cause of the bubbles appeared unlikely to be CSG activities. Subsequently, additional information was provided to government by Origin indicating that gas bubbling in the Condamine River was occurring at additional sites. Media coverage of the Condamine River gas seeps simultaneously increased. In anticipation of further sites or incidences being discovered, government implemented an initial investigation (Phase 1) focussed on ensuring public safety, assessing for environmental harm and determining the extent of gas seeps.
    3 Results
    3.1 Phase 1 Investigation Activities
    3.1.1 Gas safety

    The Petroleum and Gas Inspectorate assessment of the gas seep areas indicates that there is no safety risk in the immediate area from the seeps.
    Government’s gas seep investigation remains strongly focussed on ensuring public safety. To this end, government will be periodically reassessing risks to public safety with regard to the Condamine River gas seeps.

    3.1.2 Environmental harm

    Results from DEHP’s preliminary site assessment (Appendix C) of the Condamine River gas seeps were analysed by Environmental Officers, and subsequently verified by government ecotoxicologists.
    Results did not indicate any environmental harm at the targeted seep area when compared to background sample locations.
    4 Conclusions
    This is a technical report summarising government activities up to 1 October 2012 on its Condamine River gas seep investigation. Key conclusions are outlined in the following sections.
    4.1 Phase 1 Investigation
    The investigation has completed its initial phase, with the key results being:

    • No apparent safety risk in the immediate area of the seeps
    • No apparent evidence of environmental harm that can be attributed to the present gas seeps


    The DNRM and CSIRO don’t think fracking or gas production could be causing the gas seeps under the river because there has been no fracking and no coal seam gas (CSG) production near the gas seeps…

    The CSG field is to the southwest of the 5 km radius. The yellow star is the Orana #10 well. It and the two dots next to it were exploration and appraisal wells. These wells were cased off and abandoned because there was insufficient gas to justify completion. They were never fracked or produced.
    The CSG field is outlined in red in the southwest corner of this map, the Orana #10 well is under the yellow star. The red arrows point down-dip (geolog-ese for down-slope). Gas does not migrate down-dip.

    It would be physically impossible for gas to be migrating from the CSG field down-dip to the gas seep sites.
    While there are no producing gas wells and very few abandoned exploration wells near the seep sites, there are a bunch of private boreholes, mostly drilled for water, many of which encountered gas…

    This leads to one inescapable conclusion: MP Jeremy Buckingham is a total fracking moron and liar.

  17. What a fracking moron. Elemental physics says all that a flammable gas needs to burn is sufficient air and an ignition source. The fact that it happens over water is meaningless

  18. Get some wells drilled under the area to remove the gas to useful purpose and relieve the pressure.
    Win, win.

  19. So this guy starts a fire — did he bother to put it out????
    If he is a typical Greenie he would not. Greenies are notorious for protesting and then afterwards leaving the area a dump for others to clean up.
    I live in Portland Oregon and have seen that many times. Sometimes the Greenies leave a cleanup group behind but you would think that each Green would take care of his own trash. No, during the protest all junk gets thrown to the ground. The news reporters never cover the aftermath of the protest to expose the hypocrisy. I have come to the conclusion that in a Green run world the environment would be totally “trashed”.
    Eugene WR Gallun

  20. Methane is common in the water wells around here, and has been long before there was any drilling for oil and gas. As is H2s to varying degrees.

  21. The mistake in the video is that they did not have Bill Nye do it.
    Would have been much more credible.

  22. Cherry picking the land in addition to the historical data is never a good thing, but not unexpected from climate con games.

  23. Jeremy Buckingham says scientists ‘making excuses’ for CSG industry …

    He was interviewed on CBC radio and insisted that CSIRO always supported industry. I always thought they were a bunch of greenie alarmists. What am I missing?

  24. Fracking it would reduce or stop the seeps by drawing the pressure down. Indeed fracking here would be an ameliorating thing to do. The incident shows the dishonesty of much of the political class. If this green guy has an urgent cause, deceit wouldn’t be necessary. Green now a days means anti fossil fuel, CO2 and methane. Killing birds and bats by the millions is okay as is local villagers in China digging pits into rare earth-bearing clays and dumping sulphuric acid in to extract rare earths for making neodymium/dysprosium magnets for wind turbines, leaving behind radioactive thorium, much of the rare earths, acid and God knows what to find its way into the rivers and groundwater.,%20Illegal%20Rare%20Earth%20Mines%20Face%20Crackdown.pdf
    So let’s add fish, people and countless other creatures and plants to the dead bat and bird toll.

    • Causing the contamination of Colorado rivers by bursting containment dams in order to see what’s in there?

  25. The NSW Greens parliamentary critic for Mines and Industry searches for gas leaks with a lighter?
    His mentor, former Australian Greens head, Dr. Bob Brown, did say in his letter to “Fellow Earthians” that “We people of the Earth exist..” because of the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago so perhaps Buckingham was seeking to propel himself into a permanent orbit in the “Global Parliament” advocated by the Greens to rule us sustainably.
    “The pursuit of eternity is no longer the prerogative of the gods: it is the business of us all, here and now.”

  26. The level of dishonesty is mindblowin with these groups. How they act with impunity is a major flaw in our system. We need watchdogs against these groups like the lefties demanded against business, food and drugs. No one is above the law. We meet to make these liberals fear the government that they love by applying the same rules to them they apply to others.

  27. It seems “implausible” hey? That is the limit of the thought process of a politician who refuses to be informed. These political types really do believe they have powers of comprehension that the rest of us don’t have.

  28. This gas is coming out at a rate from a clean flowing river. Not a swamp as others “prove” as a natural occurrence. The fact the nearest fracking point is one km away and nobody has supplied a geo map of natural inclination of fractures/sediment beds.
    HOWEVER, note on the RT video. This gas “leak” is between two fences each side of the river. What an amazing coincidence.

    • David Middleton in a comment above very helpfully provided us with a map of all the gas bores in the vicinity of the Condamine River seep that Jeremy Buckingham set alight. If you could note which of the facilities on the map is the “nearest fracking point is one km away” I would find it very helpful for clarity in this discussion.

  29. When the first English settlers arrived in the 1800’s, the Australian Aboriginals had a name, Min Min for ghost lights created by spontaneous combustion of methane across a wide area of outback QLD. But no-one expects a Green politician, such as Buckingham, to know that.

  30. It almost goes without saying, although some politicians are too stupid, that if you have obnoxious natural methane gassing, that you immediately start safely extracting natural (cooking) gas. Two birds with one stone. Cheap gas and more fish. Less obnoxiousness. A richer community with some well paid workers.

  31. What the frackers are doing is extracting the gas from a coal seam, so that it can be used as an energy source. Until the coal-bed methane (“coal-seam gas” if you’re in Oz) business got started, coal was usually extracted in underground mines. As the coal was opened up, methane would seep out continuously, and sometimes quite violently. It all went to waste in the atmosphere. Methane is why underground coal mining was such an unbelievably hazardous way of life. I would guess (in the absence of taking the time to look it up) that the overwhelming majority of coal mine accidents have been gas-related rather than ground collapse incidents.
    Now, after the gas has been leaked off by the evil frackers, the (more or less) gas-free coal can be mined safely, and all its contained energy is put to use.
    If I remember right, the earliest coal-bed methane operations just let the gas out to the atmosphere or flared it off. It was simply a way of making the coal safe for mining. Now it’s used as an energy source.
    Obviously, the rocks above this particular NSW coal seam must contain a lot of natural fractures, hence the natural methane leaks. So instead of just leaking away, the methane is being used. I wonder why this is considered a bad thing?

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