Unconventional Oil and Gas

With significant increases in projected global demand for energy over coming decades, there is a growing interest in unconventional oil and gas resources. Wastewater Futures has worked on two specific sources of unconventional oil and gas in Australia, namely coal seam gas (CSG) and oil shale.

Coal seam gas is a natural gas found in coal deposits. CSG can be used for the same purposes as other natural gases, including domestic applications such as cooking and heating, as well as in industrial processes and electricity generation.  In Queensland, the vast majority of CSG is liquefied and exported to global LNG markets.  A major by-product of CSG extraction is large volumes of brackish water. The water is released from the coal seam in order to drop the pressure and thus enable extraction of the gas.  This by-product water typically contains significant amounts of TDS.  At Wastewater Futures, our team provides R&D and engineering support mainly in the area of membrane treatment. 

Oil shale is produced from the kerogen in shale. Oil shale is typically mined and crushed, then processed in above-ground retorts to convert the organic kerogen bound within the shale to oil by pyrolysis. The vaporised oil is then cooled and condensed, but water that was associated with the raw shale is also condensed at the same time, becoming heavily contaminated in the process. Approximately 1 litre of sour water is created per litre of oil produced, depending on the total moisture content fed to the retort. The sour water produced contains high concentrations of ammonia, sulphur, chloride and TOC.  Wastewater Futures was engaged by Queensland Energy Resources to work with them to develop a suitable water treatment process. Wastewater Futures assisted with the concept design, performed laboratory evaluations and designed, constructed and operated a pilot plant.  The process concept design and the laboratory analysis is presented in Lea, Doyle and Ramsay (2015)1


  • Arrow
  • Linc Energy
  • Origin
  • QGC
  • Queensland Energy Resources
  • Santos
  • Veolia

1. Lea G, Doyle J and I Ramsay (2015). Treatability Studies on Oil Shale Retort Sour Water, Ozwater 2014, Perth, May 2014.

Please contact us to discover how we can assist you on your next coal seam gas project.