A Metgasco drilling rig prepares an exploratory gas well near Casino in the lead-up to its announcement this week of plans to build a $50 million gas-fired power plant to produce electricity for the Northern Rivers.
A Metgasco drilling rig prepares an exploratory gas well near Casino in the lead-up to its announcement this week of plans to build a $50 million gas-fired power plant to produce electricity for the Northern Rivers. Jacklyn Wagner

Gas plant to power 30,000 homes

GAS reserves trapped hundreds of metres below the ground will soon provide 30,000 homes on the Northern Rivers with ‘clean energy’.

Metgasco this week announced the State Government had approved its plans for the 30-megawatt Richmond Valley Power Station.

It will be built on agricultural about 4km south-east of Casino.

But how will the $50 million power station actually work?

According to Metgasco, it will use both coal seam gas and conventional gas reservoirs, with no more than 45 petroleum production wells being drilled.

These will be spread across about 20 locations in the Casino Gas Project area.

Wells will be drilled into the coal seams of the Walloon Coal Measures, between 500m and 700m below the ground.

Metgasco says this is ‘well below’ the aquifers used by local farmers on their properties.

Coal seam gas is released when the pressure in the well is lowered.

Pumps are going to be used to take water out of the well, allowing the gas to escape.

Water produced through this process will be piped to storage ponds near the Richmond Valley Power Station.

Methane gas is then collected and transported through separate pipes to the power station.

Once there, the gas will pass through a small conditioning and measuring facility.

The gas may also be filtered, dehumidified and compressed, if required.

It will then be sent to individual generator sets, where power will be generated at 11kV and transferred to the switchyard by a transformer.

From there the electricity will be conveyed to Country Energy’s local grid so it can be used in homes and businesses.

State Clarence MP Steve Cansdell said he had ‘full confidence’ in the drilling methods being used by Metgasco.

“This power station is going to be a huge boost to the area,” he said.

“It has the potential to be the catalyst for Casino to become one of the biggest commercial centres on the North Coast.

“I believe that Metgasco has been very good with the community. They have talked to people on the land and have been very open and inclusive with their plans.”

NSW Planning Minister Tony Kelly yesterday said the project would help meet the energy demands of the region’s growing population.

A final investment decision on the Richmond Valley Power Station will be made within the next few months.

Construction will take between 12 and 15 months and employ about 50 people, with 10 ongoing jobs at the power station.



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