MONITORING: Results from laboratory testing of air quality samples taken during QGC's shutdown are expected to be released in coming months.
MONITORING: Results from laboratory testing of air quality samples taken during QGC's shutdown are expected to be released in coming months.

GAS FLARING: Curtis Island air quality under the microscope

AIR quality samples taken during QGC's first major maintenance shutdown are being laboratory analysed by the Australian Government's environment and science body.

The samples, taken by the Department of Environment and Science, are part of the ongoing increased air quality monitoring around the Curtis Island liquefied natural gas plant.

Monitoring was increased during the October shutdown to help the department determine if it will approve or reject the company's application to change its environmental conditions.

QGC owner Shell has applied for an amendment to its environmental authority to allow increased smoky flaring from the site.

A department spokesperson said the monitoring program included samples taken during the shutdown and normal operating conditions.

The spokesperson said it would have a "better understanding" of any impacts on air quality when laboratory results are received and analysed in coming months.

"The monitoring program will allow the department to compare air emissions during the different operating conditions and understand whether there are any impacts from QGC's activities," they said.

The department extended the period it would consider the EA application to gain a better understanding of any effects the shutdown had on Gladstone's air quality.


Large emission from QGC on Curtis Island. Photo Mike Richards / The Observer
A file photo of smoky flaring from QGC. Mike Richards GLA200516QGCI

It is expected to make a decision about the application in the first half of the year.

The spokesperson said Gladstone's eight air quality monitoring stations did not identify any impacts from QGC's shutdown activity.

A spokesperson for QGC said previous air quality monitoring by the department found "no health or environment impacts that are related to flaring".

"Previous dispersion modelling studies show that, due to flare gas composition and flare stack height, no health impacts are predicted from flaring at QGC's LNG facility," the spokesperson said.

Shell's application, made public last July, showed it wanted a change to its environmental authority to allow smoky flaring for hours, instead of 30 minutes it is allowed currently, to reflect "the actual predicted operating scenarios of the facility".

It said the change would bring them into line with conditions at the neighbouring LNG plants, QCLNG and GLNG.

QGC noted the increased air quality monitoring would give analysis on other nearby industries too.

Quick notes:

The Department of Environment and Science is made up of the former Department of Environment and Heritage Protection and the science portfolio within the former Department of Science, Information, Technology and Innovation.

For real time air quality results visit