Natural gas from shale and tight rock

Shale and tight gas refers to natural gas trapped in low permeability geological rock units called formations. More specifically, shale gas is natural gas, generally methane, found trapped deep underground within shale formations. Shale is a type of sedimentary rock formed of very fine-grained, or small, particles, such as clay, that have been compacted to form a layered rock. Tight gas refers to natural gas found in low permeability reservoir rocks that are most often sandstone, but also include low permeability carbonate rocks.

Shale gas, tight gas and coal seam gas are also known as ‘unconventional gas’ because the gas may not flow freely into a petroleum well. The pore spaces in these rocks are tiny and not connected so that it is difficult for the gas to move through the rock. These types of rock are described as having low permeability, which is the low ability for gas to flow.

Gas that flows freely is called conventional gas. It occurs in sandstones and carbonate rocks that have higher permeability, such as those found in the offshore sedimentary basins of Western Australia’s North West Shelf and many conventional gasfields in the northern Perth Basin.

Shale formations and tight rocks can also contain oil; these resources are known as shale oil and tight oil, respectively. These types of petroleum also fall within the scope of the Guide to the Regulatory Framework for Shale and Tight Gas in Western Australia.

The State combines its current regulations for oil and gas with international knowledge and technology, to ensure high safety and environmental standards are enforced, consistent with relevant State and Federal legislation, regulations and policies.

Committed to working with communities and Indigenous groups, the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) works to ensure there is a well-informed understanding of the development of this sector in Western Australia.


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Natural gas from shale and tight rocks Find out how natural gas forms and how shale and tight gas differs from other natural gas resources

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Related information

Below is a list of links that you may find useful.

Information centre Information Sheets, FAQ's, guidelines, reports and other information can be found here

Legislative framework for natural gas from shale and tight rock Regulatory processess for onshore gas projects is explained here

Stimulation activities in Western Australia Information on Western Australia's wells that have been fracture stimulated

Latest DMIRS media released on Western Australia's emerging shale and tight gas industry