New CSIRO report details LNG emission benefits

The CSIRO’s Gas Industry and Environmental Research Alliance (GISERA) has released a new report, detailing the whole-of-life greenhouse gas emissions associated with the Queensland seam gas (CSG) to liquefied natural gas industry (LNG). 

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 – 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.

“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.”

APPEA Chief Executive, Andrew McConville, said that the CSIRO’s findings confirmed the overwhelming evidence about the key role gas plays domestically and in export markets in lowering global greenhouse gas emissions.

“Australia’s LNG industry is in a unique position to contribute substantially to the economic development of the nation and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at home and abroad.

“Australia already generates significant national economic, environmental and social benefits through the use of its substantial gas resources.

“Using more natural gas in Australia’s power generation and resource processing would significantly enhance the nation’s ability to meet increasing energy needs and reduce emissions.

“In considering Australia’s climate change policy responses in the period to 2030, and our contribution to global emissions reduction efforts, it’s important to acknowledge the positive contribution Australia’s LNG exports make now and will increasingly make to the global effort.”

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

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