We are enhancing gas production using cultured indigenous microbes which are active in coal seam gas reservoirs and produce secondary biogenic methane.

The challenge

Enhancing gas production

Coal seam gas (CSG) is becoming a widely used energy source, particularly in eastern Australia where a number of basins have been found to produce significant volumes of methane gas from coal seams.

Coal seam gas microbes - inspecting coal

CSG is cleaner than other fossil fuels and already accounts for over 40 per cent of Queensland’s natural gas consumption. Many of the high-methane production zones are confined to regions of microbial gas generation. Research shows that microbial activity enhances the gas saturation levels of the coal, with areas in the Sydney Basin of Eastern Australia showing considerably higher production rates of CSG in coal which contains secondary biogenic gas compared to areas containing only thermogenic gas.

Our response

Forming a specialist research team

We have created a team of researchers who are conducting laboratory experiments to understand the processes involved and are culturing the microbes to determine the viability of using them to optimise gas generation. The process of biogenic gas formation requires the collective actions of a variety of anaerobic microbes comprising a range of metabolic groups, and other conditions such as temperature, availability of nutrients and appropriate substrates.

These considerations are a key component of the research. A long term field trial will eventually be undertaken where microbes and nutrients will be injected into the reservoir.

The results

Adding value to CSG production

If successful, the benefit for industry of this research will include the development of a technology to increase methane content of CSG reservoirs which could add considerable value to coal seam gas production increase production of this energy source in Australia.

If a coal seam was used for geological storage of CO2, ultimately the technology may enable some conversion of the CO2 to methane, potentially delivering further environmental and economic benefits.

In June 2016, Origin Energy cited microbial enhancement technology as having the potential to add $10-20 million per annum to their business.

Do business with us to help your organisation thrive

We partner with small and large companies, government and industry in Australia and around the world.

Contact us

Have a question? Contact us using the form below, or call 1300 363 400 during business hours, .

Your contact details

First name must be filled in

Your enquiry*

We'll need to know what you want to contact us about so we can give you an answer.

Please tell us how you heard about CSIRO