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Deep gas and oil in Queensland

Deep gas and oil includes shale gas, shale oil, tight gas, and basin-centred gas.

Deep gas and oil resources are found in rocks with low permeability, which are usually located typically between 2000 to 4000 metres below the earth's surface. These sorts of rock types usually need stimulation, such as hydraulic fracturing, to allow the gas or oil to flow through to the well.

In contrast, conventional gas and oil may be found trapped in rocks with good porosity and permeability, which don't usually require stimulation in order to be extracted. Hydraulic fracturing is not a new process and has been used safely by the gas and oil industry (both overseas and in Queensland) for decades.

illustration of how deep gas is extracted 

Location of deep gas and oil resources in Queensland

Current geological studies indicate there are vast deep gas and oil resources in the following areas:

  • Cooper Basin (South-West Queensland)
  • Southern Georgina Basin (Central-West Queensland) 
  • Isa Superbasin (North-West Queensland)
  • Bowen Basin and Maryborough Basin (South-Eastern Queensland).

A number of companies are exploring for deep gas and oil resources in the Cooper, Bowen and Isa Super basins in Queensland. The Cooper Basin is considered most likely to initially produce deep gas and oil.

Key geoscientific and resource data provided by the Geological Survey of Queensland will play a vital role in facilitating the development of our deep gas and oil industry.

Map of deep gas and oil in QLD

Types of deep gas and oil resources

There are three main types of deep gas and oil resources discussed here: shale gas and shale oil, tight gas and basin-centred gas.

Shale gas and shale oil

Shale gas and shale oil are gas or liquid petroleum deposits trapped in shale rocks that are very fine-grained and formed from compacted silt and clay. The porosity (the number of pores in the rock) and permeability (the ability of the rock to permit a substance to pass through it) of these rocks is low so that the petroleum products are trapped and can usually only be released by hydraulic fracturing.

Tight gas

Tight gas is trapped in sandstone or limestone. Unlike shale gas, tight gas has migrated into the rock (usually sandstone) and remains there due to a "cap" rock: a non-permeable formation overlying a reservoir that traps oil, gas or water, and prevents further migration.

Basin-centred gas

Basin-centred gas is found in thick accumulations of gas-saturated rocks deep in the centre of sedimentary basins.

These rocks may be more than a kilometre in thickness and as such form very large resources.

Related information


Last updated: 19 January 2015

The Department of Natural Resources and Mines is an economic development agency that enables the productive and responsible use of our natural resources – water, land, mineral and energy resources – to generate wealth and prosperity for current and future generations of Queenslanders.

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