Origin Energy & Hewitt Cattle Company: partnership delivers beneficial use of water

As the upstream operator of Australia Pacific LNG, Origin understands how important water resources are to the communities where it operates.

That is why Origin seeks to protect water resources in the natural environment, responsibly manages water consumption and makes water available for other users near its coal seam gas (CSG) operations in Queensland’s Surat and Bowen basins.

To produce natural gas, Origin extracts water and gas from underground coal seams. The gas is bonded to the coal seams by water pressure, so a well is drilled to extract enough water to reduce the pressure and allow the gas to flow.

This gas is supplied to Australian customers and also converted to LNG for export. At home, Australia Pacific LNG continues to be a significant contributor to the Australian east coast gas market, supplying approximately 30 per cent of annual demand.

The Coal Seam Gas Water Management Policy 2012 sets out the Queensland Government’s framework for the management of CSG water.

The objective of the policy is “To encourage the beneficial use of CSG water in a way that protects the environment and maximises its productive use as a valuable resource” (Queensland Department of Environment and Science, 2012).

In FY2020, around 92 per cent of total water Origin extracted was treated through reverse osmosis enabling its beneficial use in ways such as irrigation of crops or aquifer recharge.

Origin’s Spring Gully-Wybara Irrigation Project (SGWIP) is located approximately 70 km north-east of Roma, in southern Queensland, on the adjoining ‘Spring Gully’ and ‘Wybara’ properties.

Spring Gully asset manager Dave Atkin says Origin commenced a treated water irrigation program in 2010 and joined the Fitzroy Partnership for River Health in 2014.

“Our success in developing beneficial uses of extracted water, such as crop irrigation, is a strong example of our ongoing water stewardship in the Fitzroy Basin,” Dave said.

The SGWIP initially focused on Pongamia irrigation on Spring Gully and now incorporates multiple centre pivot irrigation areas on Wybara, in partnership with Hewitt Cattle Australia (HCA).

Prior to the development of the SGWIP, the land was used for beef cattle grazing. Original native vegetation had been cleared and pastures of Buffel grass established.

Since July 2018, beneficial use at an average of 5.6 ML/ha annually of treated water has been applied to forage crops and perennial pastures such as Lucerne, Rhodes grass, Wheat, Lab Lab and Oats.

Hewitt Cattle Australia Chief Operating Officer Ben Hewitt says the SGWIP is representative of HCA’s approach to natural resource management initiatives in partnership with Origin.

“The project engaged many local contractors during construction and today supplies quality fodder to local livestock producers and a significant ongoing annual contribution to the local economy,” Ben said.

“We are very proud of this joint initiative.”