Thursday, November 15, 2012

First independent tests: High CSG methane levels - Breakfast - ABC Radio National (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

First independent tests: High CSG methane levels - Breakfast - ABC Radio National (Australian Broadcasting Corporation):

Over the past decade in both America and Australia, there's been increasing dispute about the nature and extent of methane emissions from the shale and coal seam gas industries.

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and a resolution of the argument will help determine whether so-called unconventional gas is a 'transition' fuel to to a low carbon future.

Late yesterday, scientists from Southern Cross University unveiled details of the first independent testing for methane in a CSG production field in Australia, with the preliminary readings having potentially significant ramifications for the carbon liability of the booming coal seam gas industry


  1. FMG - they pay no tax,do not want to pay royalties,employ corrupt methods to destroy Aboriginal sites and have bought in to a Canning Basin gas company.

    Mining billionaire Andrew Forrest has defended attempts by his company, Fortescue Metals Group, to defer more than $200 million in royalty payments to the Western Australian Government, saying the failed attempt was based on "sound logic".

    In comments that amount to the first time Fortescue has admitted seeking to avoid the payment, Mr Forrest said the deferral was designed to ensure the restart of expansion works at the Kings iron ore project went ahead.

    Fortescue surprised the market on Thursday when it was revealed to be negotiating an 18 per cent stake in a shale gas exploration company.

    Fortescue said the deal, if signed, was designed to help find energy sources to supply its iron ore business.

  2. Shale offers freedom and security – but it could be a trap

    Exploiting shale gas and oil entails greenhouse gas emissions that will far outstrip our ability to adapt to the climate change they will cause

    Wars are fought over energy. So vital is it to the economy that the few custodians of the world's oil and gas wealth have the power to determine global booms and recessions.

    At last, it seems, a new source of energy might liberate us from this conflict – fossil fuels trapped within dense rock for millennia that we are now able to free, thanks to advances in engineering unthinkable a decade ago, and that are available in countries from Britain to Australia. But those same fossil fuels, much higher in carbon than their conventional counterparts, are likely to unleash runaway climate change that could put paid to any hopes of a low-cost – and low-risk – energy future.

    Exploiting these new forms of energy – shale gas and oil entails greenhouse gas emissions that will far outstrip our ability to adapt to the climate change they will cause. But history shows we are unlikely to be able to leave any of these chaos-causing fuels unexploited. For most of the past 30 years, the main question for the US has been how to ensure enough energy to meet the economy's needs. The oil shocks of the 1970s showed the economy's vulnerability to foreign imports. Since then, the goal of "energy security" has been crucial.



    Shashank Joshi, a fellow of the Royal United Services Institute, said: "The Gulf Arab political order for almost the entire post-war period has depended on US interest in the region.

    "The monarchies endured for so long not because of any sort of popular legitimacy but because they could depend on enormous external support. Those regimes, which have already had to deal with a high degree of domestic mobilisation will come under unbearable stress and they cannot survive without the technical advantage of western weapons."

    Few are expecting the US Fifth Fleet to pack up and sail home in the immediate future, just because America has found enough oil and gas for its needs in its own back garden. Geopolitical change tends to lag a decade or two behind economic change, but as the US finds itself less reliant on regimes with which it has little in common there will be powerful pressure on the Pentagon to begin to bring home its troops and hardware.

    The speed of US disengagement will depend to a large extent on whether the alternative is a vacuum and instability, as a variety of religious and tribal forces vie to inherit the Gulf kingdoms. The role of Iran, an economy largely dependent on oil sales that already faces severe budget shortfalls from sanctions, is likely to be critical. Whether it responds to crisis by collaboration or confrontation with its traditional Gulf adversaries will shape the region's future.

    A lot depends, too, on whether the new biggest customers for Gulf oil are ready to take America's place in patrolling the tanker routes.



    Concerns over water contamination from fracking for natural gas aside, some argue that the much-advertised climate advantage of natural gas may be all but offset by the steady release of methane during its long journey from the well to the 65 million American households that depend on it. Molecule per molecule, methane has more than 20 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.

    Now researchers in Boston have given skeptics of the “At least natural gas is better than coal” argument some additional ammunition.

    In Boston and many other aging cities in the Northeast, a maze of underground low-pressure natural gas pipelines are riddled with leaks. The research team, led by Nathan Phillips, an associate professor of earth and environment at Boston University, measured atmospheric methane concentrations along all 785 miles of road within Boston’s city limits with a highly sensitive device known as a cavity-ring-down mobile CH4 analyzer.

    They discovered 3,356 leaks of methane whose isotopic characteristics indicated that they originated in fossil fuel rather than microbial sources. Some leaks clocked in at more than 15 times the global background methane level, the researchers write in the journal Environmental Pollution.

    “There are two ways to get a sense of the leak rate of methane,” Dr. Phillips said. “You can go out to the leaks on the ground and put chambers over them and measure how much is coming out, but that is incredibly tedious with over three thousand leaks in the city. Or, you can use the integrating power of the atmosphere itself.”

    With the data, the team has created the first comprehensive and publicly available map of leaks in any city.

    “We know there’s a lot of leaks in Boston and outside of Boston, too, and we know that there is a good chunk of industry-reported lost and unaccounted-for gas,” Dr. Phillips said. “What we don’t know, and what we,and a bunch of other people are trying to get a handle on, is how much methane is coming out of all of these leaks. What is the rate of flow? Is some of it just metering problems, or accounting issues?” 11:01 a.m. | Updated Here’s Andrew C. Revkin’s take on the subject at the Dot Earth blog; check out the video about the research, too.)

    Many of the pipes in Boston are more than a century old and are made of cast iron or in some cases even wood. While they are slowly being replaced by modern plastic pipes, only time will tell if these are truly more durable: many are designed to last only 50 years.

    Replacing just one mile of pipeline costs around $1 million. And in the event of a rupture, newly paved roads may have to be dug up to repair a pipeline.