Australian CSG emissions

ONE of the most common questions Australians ask about coal seam gas is whether the gas wells leak – and if so, how much?

In the first Australian study of its kind, new CSIRO research now gives an indication of how much those “fugitive emissions” might be, and how we can start to reduce them.

Commissioned by the federal Department of the Environment and nowpublished on its website, the pilot study measured emissions around 43 coal seam gas production wells – six in New South Wales and 37 in Queensland – out of the more than 5000 wells currently operating around Australia.
The results reveal that:

  • nearly all of the 43 wells tested showed some fugitive emissions;
  • the emissions rates were very low (in most cases less than 3 grams of methane per minute – equivalent to methane emissions from around 30 cows);
  • in many cases, those emissions could be reduced or even stopped entirely; and
  • the average measured levels from the Australian wells were 20 times lower than reported in astudy of fugitive emissions from US unconventional gas sites, published last year in the leading international journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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