Coal seam gas less dirty than coal, says company with $580 million stake in coal seam gas

THE Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association has just released the executive summary of a new “independent” report which looks at the climate change impact of coal seam gas compared to coal when both are burned for electricity.

I’m still digesting the findings and trying to get a full copy rather than just the executive summary, which APPEA has made available.

But in short, the report’s summary claims to examine the cradle-to-grave emissions of a type of gas known as CSG (coal seam gas) but known elsewhere as coal bed methane.

Specifically, the report looks at emissions from CSG once it has been compressed into liquid form (LNG) and exported to China. A comparison is then made between burning this gas for electricity using various different types of generators and asks how this compares to coal.

The report claims coal seam gas is a cleaner option or, to put this another way, less dirty than coal when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions. Depending on which type of power station is used, the report says coal emits somewhere between 87 per cent and 5 per cent more greenhouse gases per unit of electricity than CSG-LNG gas from Australia.

Forgetting for a moment that gas does still emit huge quantities of greenhouse gases, the CSG industry will no doubt make a big play on the findings of this “independent” report.

What should be noted, however, is that the report which attempts to paint CSG as a good guy was carried out by a giant resource industry service company, WorleyParsons.

Late last year, WorleyParsons won a $580 million contract to deliver “engineering, procurement and infrastructure” to a $15 billion CSG-LNG project in Queensland.

So the “independent” report was written by a company with a $580 million stake in the same industry they’re examining.

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Author: Graham

Graham Readfearn is a Brisbane-based journalist. Go to the About page in the top navigation for more information.

4 thoughts on “Coal seam gas less dirty than coal, says company with $580 million stake in coal seam gas”

  1. Thanks for posting that.
    Double standards, hypocrisy and greed are running this debate. Time to point that out.
    Denis WIlson

  2. Clearly, even if CSG is more “clean” than coal, that does not relate to a sustainable environmental outcome anyhow?! We need to pump more government incentives into renewable sources of energy to achieve economies of scale and affordability of the technology. Once the cost is lower or equal to fossil fuel, even if this is achieved through then mechanism of a carbon tax or a carbon pollution reduction scheme, then we can achieve true sustainable outcomes.

  3. If the report has been done properly, it doesn’t really matter who prepares it. Calculation of greenhouse gas emissions is a relatively straightforward and open process (see http://www.climatechange.gov.au/publications/greenhouse-report/~/media/publications/greenhouse-report/nger-measurement-technical-guidelines-pdf.ashx) and is easy enough to audit if the assumptions about the calculations are clearly presented.
    For me the interesting point is “coal emits somewhere between 87 per cent and 5 per cent more greenhouse gases per unit of electricity than CSG-LNG gas from Australia.”. In engineering terms “5% more” is the same as “about the same”. With a carbon tax in place, CSG operations that contains less CO2, is closer to the market, and can be processed more efficiently will have a competitive advantage and will be commercialised faster than any other. Eventually when these sources become less plentiful, we’re back to the coal basis!

  4. Hey Graham, how are you?

    Looks like our worlds are set to collide.

    Did you manage to track down a copy of the full report?

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