What is coal seam gas?

Coal Seam Gas (CSG) is a naturally occurring gas found in coal seams hundreds of metres beneath the earth's surface. CSG, like conventional natural gas, is comprised mostly of methane and is a type of petroleum that was formed from the compressed remains of plants over millions of years. 

Exploration and production

The exploration and production of CSG began in Australia in 1996, although methane gas in coal seams was first accessed during the early days of coal mining. CSG from the Sydney Harbour Colliery in Balmain was compressed and sold as an industrial and motor fuel in the 1900s. 

How is coal seam gas extracted?

CSG is extracted from deep below the ground using world-best practice techniques that protect the community and our environment. There are different ways of extracting CSG, including vertical, horizontal or directional drilling. Hydraulic fracturing is sometimes used to release gas from a coal seam.

Protections and controls

The CSG industry in NSW is governed by tough regulations that control the exploration and production of the State's vast natural gas reserves. The NSW Government's policy framework is aimed at balancing the growth of the CSG industry with the need to protect our environment, valuable agricultural land, water resources and residential communities. Find out more about protections and controls for CSG

Environment, health and safety

The NSW Government has implemented strict regulations to protect the State's prime agricultural land and important industries including farming, fisheries, crops, livestock, horse breeding, wine-making and horticulture. Companies that fail to inform the Environment Protection Authority of a serious incident can be prosecuted and fined up to $2 million. Learn more about environment, health and safety 

Energy security and benefits

Access to affordable gas, through the development of state reserves, is essential if NSW is to achieve economic growth targets, address greenhouse gas emissions, and ensure a reliable and sustainable gas supply in to the future. On current forecasts, NSW could face a shortage of gas from as early as 2014/5 as existing contracts begin to expire. Read about energy security and benefits

Land access and coal seam gas

Coal Seam Gas (CSG) explorers must hold a title and enter into a written access arrangement with landholders before entering a property. Read about landholders' rights

Anatomy of a CSG well

A CSG well is created by drilling through layers of earth and rock up to 1000 metres below the surface. Multiple layers of steel casing and cement are pressure-injected so the well adheres to the surrounding rock. A strong seal prevents gas or fluid leakage into permeable layers, including aquifers. Explore the anatomy of a CSG well.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Do you know who is responsible for regulating CSG in NSW? Is CSG toxic? How will the environment and water be protected? How safe are CSG drilling wells? What is Hydraulic Fracturing? What chemicals are used in the fracturing process? How much water does CSG extraction use? See answers to these questions and more in our FAQs.

Water and coal seam gas

Water, one of the state's most precious resources, is protected by 30 pieces of legislation, regulation and controls to ensure our rivers and streams, aquifers, ground water and vital catchments remain free of damage and pollution. These tough new measures ensure NSW has a comprehensive framework to protect the State's water resources. Read more about water and coal seam gas.

Environmental protection

NSW has introduced stringent controls to protect the State's prime agricultural land and our important primary industries including farming, fisheries, crops, livestock, horse breeding, wine-making, horticulture and other food production from the potential impacts of coal seam gas. Learn more about environmental protection.

CSG glossary

Read the definitions of words and terms relating to the coal seam gas industry, exploration and production in the CSG glossary.

For further information
Office of Coal Seam Gas
+61 (0)2 8222 4325
+61 (0)2 4226 3851
Office of Coal Seam Gas, NSW Department of Industry, PO Box 344 Hunter Regional Mail Centre NSW 2310
516 High Street Maitland NSW 2320 Map