An assessment of whole-of-life greenhouse gas emissions associated with the Queensland coal seam gas (CSG) to liquefied natural gas industry (LNG) is detailed in a new report released today by CSIRO’s Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance (GISERA).

[The CSIRO logo and text appears: GISERA, Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance]

Narrator: What the latest scientific research is telling us about greenhouse gas emissions from the Queensland Onshore Natural Gas Industry.

[Animation image appears of a world globe and then the image changes to show a LNG plant and then the animation image changes to show structural symbols of various chemicals including methane]

As countries seek reliable energy sources the liquified natural gas, LNG industry is growing but natural gas emissions are of concern to communities, government and industry.

[Animation images move through to show a gas pipe leading to a stove with a pot on top of it, a gas extraction station, and then a symbol of the molecular makeup of methane next to a question mark]

We know a lot about greenhouse gas emissions when natural gas is combusted but less about the emissions generated by the extraction and production of LNG.

[Animation image changes to show a pair of scales with LNG on one side and Coal on the other and the image shows the scale swinging back and forth]

And if production of LNG generates too much greenhouse gas the climate benefits of replacing coal are lost.

[Animation image changes to show a symbol of a laboratory experiment showing beakers and test tubes below a text heading: CSIRO GISERA, Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance]

The CSIRO has completed a range of studies since 2012 to help understand greenhouse gas emissions associated with the Queensland LNG industry.

[Animation image changes to show a cloud either side of text “CSG – LNG” and below this a line diagram appears showing the process from drilling the well to the useable gas and text appears: CO2.e = 1.4%]

By looking at the greenhouse gas emissions for the whole production chain for a Coal Seam Gas to LNG project in the Surat Basin these studies have found greenhouse gas emissions from a CSG – LNG project in Queensland are around 1.4% of production.

[Animation image zooms in on the first three steps of the process of drilling for the gas and processing it and text appears above: CH4 = 0.5%]

Fugitive methane emissions from upstream gas production infrastructure is less than 0.5% of production.

[Camera zooms in on the first step showing the well and text appears above: CH4 = 0.3%]

Fugitive methane emissions from CSG wells and casings in the Surat Basin is less than 0.3% of production.

[Animation image changes to show two cattle on one end of a line diagram and the gas well on the other end and a pie graph appears above and text appears around the pie graph: Grazing cattle = 54%, Feedlots = 24%, Other = 14%]

Grazing cattle, feedlots, cattle, poultry, piggeries, and CSG operations are the main sources of methane emissions in the Surat Basin.

[Animation image changes to show a line diagram beginning with the LNG plant and ending with an electricity pole and text appears: Could reduce GHG emissions, Dependent on fuel prices]

Using Queensland LNG to generate electricity in Asia could reduce greenhouse gas emissions if it replaces the use of thermal coal but this depends on the relative prices of different fuel types.

[Animation image changes to show a world globe and text appears above: Could reduce GHG emissions by up to 50%]

In Australia replacing thermal coal with Queensland coal seam gas to generate electricity could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 50%.

[Animation image changes to show jigsaw pieces gradually being slotted in to fill the whole screen and then the camera zooms out to show the jigsaw pieces forming a map of Australia]

The CSIRO will continue research on greenhouse gas emissions from natural gas to assist the Commonwealth Government in obtaining accurate data for Australia’s national greenhouse gas inventory.

[Text appears: CSIRO, GISERA, Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance, To find out more about the latest emissions research, go to https://gisera.csiro.au]

To find out more about the latest emissions research go to the GISERA website.


GISERA animation

Additional Resources

The report – Whole of Life Greenhouse Gas Emissions Assessment of a Coal Seam Gas to Liquefied Natural Gas Project in the Surat Basin, Queensland, Australia [pdf · 660kb] – assesses greenhouse gas emissions of a CSG-LNG project in Queensland, and the relative climate benefits of using Queensland natural gas in place of thermal coal as fuel for generation of electricity in Australia.

A unique feature of the research is the use of commercial-in-confidence data from a CSG to LNG project in the Surat Basin, Queensland to provide for the first time accurate estimates of whole of life greenhouse gas emissions associated with CSG-LNG operations in Australia.

The report found that greenhouse gas emissions associated with CSG production, compression, dehydration, water treatment and liquefaction represented 1.4 per cent of likely future production for this CSG-LNG project (576 PJ/year).

The primary activities in the CSG-LNG supply chain contributing to emissions in Australia were electricity use on-site for CSG extraction, and combustion of natural gas for electricity for LNG production. 

Outside Australia, the primary activities contributing to emissions were combustion of natural gas which represented 83 per cent of total emissions when all processes from well head through liquefaction, shipping, regasification and combustion were considered.

Fuel switching from black thermal coal to Queensland coal seam gas for electricity generation using high efficiency closed cycle gas turbines in Australia - avoiding liquefaction, shipping and regasification - represents a potential reduction in GHG emissions of around 50 per cent.

GISERA Director Dr Damian Barrett said the results of this latest research aligned with other studies completed by the CSIRO and GISERA in Queensland and other parts of Australia to understand methane and other GHG emissions associated with unconventional onshore gas activities.

"These results are consistent with other CSIRO studies in this region which suggest that the fugitive emissions component of the total greenhouse gas emissions identified in this latest study are at the lower end of the scale," Dr Barrett said.

"The climate benefits of using natural gas in place of thermal coal for electricity generation are generally accepted when fugitive emissions are less than three per cent of total production.

"Replacement of coal-fired power by gas-fired generation, renewables and other low-carbon technologies is part of CSIRO’s vision for Australia's energy transition.

"Results of this latest research underline the potential climate benefits of using gas in place of coal to generate electricity, particularly when using high efficiency closed cycle gas turbines."

GISERA is a collaboration between CSIRO, Commonwealth and state governments and industry established to undertake publicly-reported independent research.

The purpose of GISERA is for CSIRO to provide quality assured scientific research and information to communities living in gas development regions focusing on social and environmental topics.

The governance structure for GISERA is designed to provide for and protect research independence and transparency of research outputs.


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