CSIRO has developed a factsheet which sets out what the science tells us about methane emission sources from CSG wells, pipelines, compressors and other infrastructure associated with CSG production, and their importance in warming the earth’s climate.

Key points:

  • Fugitive emissions are losses, leaks and other releases of methane to the atmosphere that are associated with industries producing natural gas, oil and coal.
  • In Australia, fugitive emissions from gas production are estimated to account for about 2.5% of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • To accurately measure fugitive emissions, natural background biological and geological sources must be separated from human sources. CSIRO studies aim to separate these sources.
  • CSIRO has a range of research programs underway in Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia using measuring and monitoring techniques and life cycle analysis methods in an attempt to build a comprehensive picture of natural and fugitive emissions in Australia.
  • Unconventional gas issues in the United States differ from those in Australia. Only Australian specific studies provide an accurate picture of CSG industry fugitive emissions.
  • The median fugitive emissions from measurements of CSG wells in Queensland and NSW is less than 1kg/day with 1% of wells releasing 63 kg/day. Well completion and work-over measurements show releases of 200 kg/day and 20 t/day, respectively. Measurements made at a CSG water treatment plant were between 18 and 32 kg/day and from a CSG compression plant, emissions were 780 kg/day. To put these measurements into context, methane fluxes measured from an urban sewerage treatment plant were 45 kg/day, a medium sized waste landfill were 400 kg/day and from a cattle feed lot were 2,600 kg/day.
  • CSIRO is actively researching fugitive emissions and this fact sheet will be updated as new data are received.

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