Queensland coalbed methane regulatory regime unveiled

In a move that it hopes will unlock its massive coalbed methane (CBM) gas resource and stimulate significant new investment and industrial development, the Queensland Government this week unveiled Australia's first comprehensive regulatory framework for the emerging CBM industry.

"Queensland has abundant supplies of high quality, competitively-price coal and this new policy regime will allow us to take full advantage of the massive quantities of gas trapped in those coal seams," said Mines Minister Stephen Robertson.

"The regime provides greater certainty for explorers and developers to invest in coal seam gas projects as well as provide clear rules, rights and obligations for the coal and gas industries to work cooperatively in developing the resource.

"It also provides for a new, integrated safety management regime that ensures the production of coal seam gas without compromising the operational safety of existing or future coal mines," Mr Robertson said.

The key objectives of the Coal Seam Gas Regime are to ensure operational safety for current future coal and CBM activities; to provide clear rules, rights and obligations to protect existing tenures and future investments; to optimise resource development; and to protect future mineability of coal seams.

Mr Robertson said the Queensland Government was currently developing draft legislation to implement the regulatory and administrative arrangements contained in the Coal Seam Gas Regime.

"Industry stakeholders will have significant input into the development of these new regulations and protocols and we plan to have a draft Bill available for industry comment by March," he said.

Mr Robertson said it was hoped the draft legislation would be ready for introduction to State Parliament by the middle of 2003.

"To ensure a fair and equitable implementation of the new arrangements, interim and transitional arrangements will be put in place to ensure that applications made before the legislative amendments come into force are dealt within in accordance with regime principles and objectives," he said.