QUESTION: Government advice on underground coal gasification

During Question Time, Mark asked the Minister for Trade, Tourism and Infrastructure representing the Minister for Energy and Mining which experts the Government consulted regarding underground coal gasification, and what was their advice. 

The Hon. M.C. PARNELL: It would be no surprise to members that many South Australians have been writing letters to the Premier, to the environment minister and also to the Minister for Energy about underground coal gasification. One constituent has provided me with the response that the Hon. Dan van Holst Pellekaan MP, Minister for Energy and Mining, provided, and it includes the following line:

In recognition of the sensitivity of LCE proposal,—

that is Leigh Creek Energy—

the South Australian Government regulators sought additional advice from independent national and international USG experts prior to granting each stage of the approval.

I note that the USG is a typo: it should be UCG. The government is claiming that it has taken advice. My questions are:

1. Who are these experts and what was their advice? Will the minister make that advice available to members of the public?

2. Were any of these experts Professor Campbell Gemmell, who was the chief executive of the South Australian Environment Protection Authority and who is one of the world's foremost authorities on underground coal gasification and an advisor to the UK and Scottish governments?

The Hon. D.W. RIDGWAY (Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment): I thank the member for his ongoing interest in this matter, one that has spanned many years now. Underground coal gasification is an issue that falls fairly and squarely under the responsibility of the Hon. Dan van Holst Pellekaan, and I will take that question on notice and bring back a reply.


Response provided on February 12, 2019

The Hon David Ridgway MLC: The Minister for Mining and Energy has advised:

  1. The independent experts used in the State Government's assessment of the Leigh Creek Energy demonstration project for underground coal gasification, or UCG, include:

    - Ikon Science, technical consultants in the field of geomechanical modelling.
    - Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, renowned international experts in UCG based in the United States.
    - Dr Gary J. Love, fact witness to the Queensland Department of Environment and Science in the investigation and prosecution of Linc.
    - Dr Clifford Mallett, former CSIRO UCG research scientist. 

    The independent experts were selected based on their expertise in their respective fields and for being at arms-length to the Leigh Creek Energy demonstration project.

    The advice provided by the independent experts is publicly available on the Department for Energy and Mining website.

  2. The State Government did not engage Professor Campbell Gemmell as an independent expert. However, findings from Professor Gemmell's Independent Review of UCG commissioned by the Scottish Government, were considered in the State Government's assessment of the Leigh Creek Energy demonstration project.

    In his review, Professor Gemmell concludes that establishing credible baselines, firm planning and licensing conditions and subsequently enforcing robust regulatory, monitoring and liability management arrangements would be paramount to the realisation of any successful UCG project. It is exactly for these reasons that in South Australia through the Petroleum and Geothermal Energy Act 2000, licensees are required to undertake sufficient exploration, appraisal and site assessments to enable informed evidence- and fact-based regulatory decisions on any UCG proposal in this state.

    Further details are provided in the assessment summary report for the Leigh Creek Energy demonstration project, available on the Department for Energy and Mining website.

    Website link: