A new report into the Isa Superbasin has identified an underexplored petroleum province with demonstrated oil and gas potential.
The report is part of a $35.4 million program assessing the potential environmental and water-related impacts of future shale and tight gas development in three onshore geological basins including a subset of the Isa Superbasin called the Isa GBA (Geological and Bioregional Assessment) region, a large cattle producing area covering 82000 sq km south of Doomadgee from Burketown to the NT border.
The Isa GBA was identified as the most likely area of the Isa Superbasin where future development of unconventional hydrocarbon resources (shale gas) could result in delivery of gas to the east coast gas market within five to ten years.
The report said a future shale gas industry would need authorisation to take water from aquifers, watercourses or lakes through the relevant Queensland Government water plans.
"Produced water from shale gas reservoirs could possibly be used for drilling and hydraulic fracturing, although the volumes available and the economic viability are uncertain," the report said.
The Isa GBA region occurs mostly on relatively flat and low-lying savannah country south of the Gulf with fewer than 2000 residents. Doomadgee is the only recognised town in the region, 470km north of Mount Isa with an estimated population of about 1400 (and 90% of the population is of Indigenous heritage).
Traditional homelands of the Gangalidda, Garawa and Waanyi peoples are in the Isa GBA region and native title rights have been determined for about 70% of the region
The report found the impact of hydraulic fracturing on the region would be low though the impact of hydraulic fracturing into the aquifers was recommended for further analysis based on "heightened community concerns around hydraulic fracturing and the specific geological characteristics of the Isa GBA region."
The report said the baseline data, knowledge and conceptual models can be used as the building blocks for future impact and risk analysis of unconventional gas developments in the Isa GBA region.
It recommended further field-based investigations and targeted hydrological modelling to help to address key stakeholder questions and prioritised knowledge gaps.
The scientific studies are being conducted by CSIRO and Geoscience Australia, supported by the Bureau of Meteorology and managed by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.
Chief of Minerals, Energy and Groundwater, Dr Andrew Heap, said Geoscience Australia's work has been a major part of the program.
"This joint-agency initiative enables industry to responsibly develop unconventional gas resources to supply the East Coast Gas Market," Dr Heap said.
"Our comprehensive analysis of the available data has led to the first integrated interpretation combining the regional geology, unconventional gas prospectivity and hydrogeological systems of these three basins.
"This work, which is detailed in supporting technical reports, included the interpretation of satellite-derived datasets to evaluate surface water and groundwater interactions; the creation of new regional-scale unconventional gas prospectivity maps; and the development of hydrogeological systems models to better understand natural processes and components of each region."
The reports and more information about the three stages of the program is available at the Geological and Bioregional Assessments Program's website.
READ ALSO: Bob Katter unhappy with Olympics bid
While you are here subscribe to our twice weekly email to your inbox at every Tuesday and Friday