A report by CSIRO’s Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance (GISERA) assesses the whole-of-life greenhouse gas emissions associated with the coal seam gas to liquefied natural gas industry in Queensland and the relative climate benefits of using Queensland natural gas in place of thermal coal as fuel for the 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 in southern Queensland to provide for the first time accurate estimates of the whole-of-life greenhouse gas emissions associated with CSG-LNG operations in Australia.
The report estimates that the greenhouse gas emissions associated with CSG production, compression, dehydration, water treatment and liquefaction represent 1.4 per cent of likely future production from this CSG-LNG project (576 petajoules per year).
The primary activities in the CSG-LNG supply chain contributing to emissions in Australia are on-site electricity use for CSG extraction and the combustion of natural gas for electricity for LNG production.
Outside Australia, the primary activity contributing to emissions is the combustion of natural gas, which represents 83 per cent of total emissions when all processes are considered, from well head through liquefaction, shipping, regasification and combustion.
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 greenhouse gas emissions of around 50 per cent.
GISERA Director Dr Damian Barrett says the results of this latest research align with other studies completed by CSIRO and GISERA in Queensland and other parts of Australia to understand methane and other greenhouse gas 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,” he says.
“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.