Geological formations are connected to their adjacent structures in one way or other. At one extreme, this connection allows material to move easily from one structure into another; at the other extreme, only indirect interactions may occur. Some of these interactions may be synergistic and helpful while others may be detrimental.
This two-part CSIRO report seeks to clarify the possible interactions in a range of potential geological settings. It aligns ‘best in class’ international studies to the Australian context, to propose relevant “resource interaction” decision flow-charts.
Coal, oil and gas are contained in various geological structures in addition to shallow and deep ground water resources.
This study recommends a risk based approach focusing on the potential for:
- Adverse interactions – which could include potential contamination by carbon dioxide, resource competition for water disposal reservoirs, brine displacement into adjacent reservoirs and seal compromises.
- Positive synergies – that may include increased formation pressure (re-pressurising), enhanced oil and gas recovery. Carbon dioxide may also provide a working fluid for geothermal applications.
Decisions on the productive use of resources will require consensus to be drawn between various stakeholder interests. These would include private business, state and federal regulators, and local community groups.
High-quality information and transparent decision processes will be key to enabling these conversations.
This assessment provides initial recommendations on the nature of information and processes that could be adopted or adapted by custodians of the resources. It is likely that State “Advisory Bodies” could be the best customers to benefit from this study.