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Report points to CSG environmental benefits

18 August, 2014

Greenhouse gas emissions from Australian coal seam gas (CSG) production wells are actually very low – especially when compared to the volume of gas produced from the wells, a new report has found.

The report Field Measurements of Fugitive Emissions from Equipment and Well Casings in Australian Coal Seam Gas Production Facilities prepared for the Department of the Environment by the CSIRO involved scientists measuring fugitive methane emissions from a number of production wells in Queensland and NSW.

Report's key findings

The report found the median methane emission rate from all sources for the 43 wells examined was approximately 0.6 grams per minute, while the mean emission rate was about 3.2 grams per minute.

This compares to a mean production rate of the wells examined of 29,600 m3 per day and represents about 0.02 per cent of total production. This is much lower than recent estimates of methane emissions from gas production in the United States.

This median emission rate is about the same as daily methane emissions from four cows, which was an "important" finding, the Australian Petrol Product and Exploration Association (APPEA) said in a recent statement.

Economic benefits

"This is (a) … technically rigorous study conducted by the CSIRO. While the study notes there are a number of other areas requiring further investigation, it is significant that these initial findings based on actual measurements show fugitive emissions are a small fraction (less than 0.02 per cent) of CSG production," APPEA Chief Executive, David Byers said.

"Natural gas is up to 70 per cent cleaner than traditional energy sources and there are substantial environmental benefits associated with expanding natural gas production, including CSG production.

"Developing Australia's substantial natural gas resources for domestic and export use will have significant environmental and economic benefits, both in Australia and throughout energy-hungry export markets.

"In order to realise these benefits, APPEA will continue working with the Australian government on further development of its climate change policy response to recognise the low emissions benefits of natural gas and to enhance Australia's international competitiveness as a destination for oil and gas investment."

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Ron | Monday, August 18, 2014, 1:29 PM
We all know that methane emissions is not the major issue with CSG wells; it's the significant underground water contamination risks. Contamination of the water tables are not immediately evident and when it is, the damage is permanent.
rod | Wednesday, August 20, 2014, 2:33 PM
WE do need to take into consideration all impacts including those to the water table and where necessary err on the side of caution. However we also need to do this from all sides and stop demonising CSG capture. If it can be done in an enviroonmentally safe manner and the emissions are so much better than current energy generation methods we need to capitalise on them. the alternative is to stop using power.