The gas industry is highly regulated. It operates under strict guidelines and is answerable to several federal and state government agencies.

Exploration and production operations are guided by strong rules on environmental management, water management, land access and other issues.

Before beginning a project, companies undertake research to establish environmental baseline data. This helps define potential impacts and develop environmental impact statements and management plans. Environmental risks are identified and strategies for minimising those risks are evaluated.

The amount of research required will vary depending on the nature, size and potential environmental impact of an activity. In cases where the environment is sensitive or the activity is complex, more detailed research may be commissioned.

Companies use extensive monitoring to detect any possible changes in the environment as a result of operations.

Monitoring occurs before, during and after activities to measure their potential impact.

Before drilling a well, companies undertake extensive surveys to better understand the local environment.

Technicians and engineers also use a range of monitoring techniques based on seismic surveys, pressure-testing and water sampling technology to show that the production process is working safely and effectively.

Standard forms of monitoring include:

  • Water sampling (surface water and groundwater)
  • Air quality (gas, dust and noise)
  • Vegetation and flora (e.g. weed infestations)
  • Fauna (surveys of vulnerable species)
  • Seismicity (potential earth tremors)
  • Well head (pressure changes within the well)
  • Soils/topography (e.g. for erosion)
  • Social (impact on communities)
  • Cultural (disturbance of cultural sites)

Where required, monitoring will be adapted to ensure that all changes to the environment as a result of activities are watched closely.