On 22 November 2013, certain sections of the Land Water and
Other Legislation Amendment Act 2013 (LWOLA
Act) that amend the Petroleum Act 1923 and the
Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004
(petroleum legislation) commenced.
The new provisions address the conversion of coal seam gas
(CSG) wells to water bores on a landowner's
property. In particular the amendments address:
who may drill a water observation bore or water supply
conversation of a well to a water observation bore or water
supply bore; and
the transfer of a water observation bore or water supply bore
to a landowner.
Who may drill a water observation bore or water supply
The amendments permits the holder of an authority to prospect, a
petroleum lease or a water monitoring authority to drill a water
observation bore or water supply bore in the area of the respective
authority or lease.
Prior to these amendments, a water bore or water supply bore
could only be drilled by a licensed water bore driller or under the
supervision of a licensed water bore driller.
A petroleum tenure holder must now decide whether the bore will
be drilled as per the requirements of the petroleum legislation,
where there is significant gas hazard or whether it is safe to
drill the bore under the Water Act 2000 (Qld). If the bore is to be
drilled under the petroleum legislation, there is no longer a need
for the presence of a water bore driller to supervise drilling.
Conversion of a well to a water observation bore or water
Previously, the conversion of a well to a water observation bore
or water supply bore could only be performed by a licensed water
bore driller. The changes under the LWOLA Act allow petroleum
tenure holders to convert a petroleum well into a water observation
or water supply bore so long as the petroleum tenure holder
complies with the prescribed requirements. As the presence of a
water bore driller is no longer required for the conversion, some
cost savings will also accrue for the petroleum tenure holder.
A new provision has been inserted which states that only a well
drilled or decommissed on or after 12 January 2012 may be converted
into a water observation bore or water supply bore. These wells
were drilled or decommissioned in compliance with the Code of
Practice for Constructing and Abandoning Coal Seam Gas Wells in
Queensland. As such, the construction standards of CSG wells
after this date are closer to the Minimum Construction Requirements
for Water Bores in Australia, enabling CSG wells to be more readily
converted to water bores.
In order to convert the well to a water observation bore or
water supply bore, the holder must lodge a well completion report
for the well and issue a notice of intention to convert the
The petroleum tenure holder must ensure that the drilling and/or
conversion of a well is carried out in accordance with the Code
of Practice For constructing and abandoning coal seam gas wells and
associated bores in Queensland (Code of Practice) as well as
the Safety Management Plan for the site, and that the party engaged
is fully competent.
A fine of up to $55,000 applies for non-compliance with the
prescribed requirements in drilling or converting a well.
Transfer of a water observation bore or water supply bore to a
A water observation bore or water supply bore may now be
transferred by a petroleum tenure holder or water monitoring
authority holder to the owner of the land on which the bore is
located. In completing this transfer. Responsibility remains with
the petroleum holder to satisfy the landowner that all legislative
requirements have been met.
Prior to these amendments, a CSG well could not be directly
transferred from a petroleum tenure holder to a landholder on whose
land the petroleum well was drilled due to health and safety and
The changes allow landholders to access new water supplies
without incurring the costs of drilling a separate water bore.
The Code of Practice states that prior to conversion
and transfer of a well to a landowner, or transfer of a purpose
built water bore to a landowner, a local Department of Natural
Resoures and Mines (DNRM) office should be
contacted to confirm that the location of the proposed take through
bore is permitted under relevant licensing regulations.
It is a common misconception that the grant of mining tenure, whether it be an Exploration Permit, Mineral Development Licence or Mining Lease, will entitle the holder to access all land within it in order to explore or mine.
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