Coal seam gas (CSG - also known as coal bed methane or CBM) is a widely used energy source, particularly in eastern Australia, where several basins have been found to produce significant volumes of methane gas from coal seams.
CSG is lower in emission than other fossil fuels and accounts for over 20 percent of Queensland's natural gas consumption, with the rest used for LNG exports. Many of the high-methane production coal seams are confined to regions of microbial gas generation.
Research shows that microbial activity enhances the gas saturation levels of coal, with areas in the Sydney and Bowen basin of eastern Australia showing considerably higher gas production rates from coal reservoirs that contain secondary biogenic gas compared to those containing only thermogenic gas.
The technology developed by CSIRO, targets existing microbial communities naturally found in CSG reservoirs and delivers nutrients to accelerate biogenic gas generation in the reservoirs within very short time frames.
The technology has demonstrated the potential to extend the production life of existing assets, reduce environmental footprint of CSG development and increase total gas production.
The technology comprises of several patents which allow the user to determine the appropriate nutrients (selection, composition and concentration) that will increase biogenic activity and lead to increased gas production from CSG reservoirs.
Use of these nutrients has demonstrated up to 10 times Return on Investment, depending on reservoir characteristics.
R2T can be applied on both a local and global scale.
- The technology focuses on mature or near-end of life CSG assets and through injection of nutrients with produced water from existing wells to increase the gas production.
- Application of the technology can add value to undersaturated reservoirs through accelerated gas production.
- The technology has the potential to also be used to convert CO2 to methane in reservoirs.
CSIRO currently has four patents that capture the characterisation of microbes, nutrient mixture/composition to enhance methane production.
In collaboration with industry, CSIRO's team of researchers (microbiologists, geologists, reservoir engineers) conducted laboratory experiments to understand the processes involved in replenishment, and are studying the microbes to determine the viability of using them to optimise gas generation. A long-term field trial is in the planning stage, set to commence in 2020.