Coal seam gas industry methane emissions in the Surat Basin, Australia: Comparing airborne measurements with inventories

Bruno G. Neininger, Bryce F.J. Kelly, Jorg M. Hacker, Xinyi Lu, Stefan Schwietzke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
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Coal seam gas (CSG) accounts for about one-quarter of natural gas production in Australia and rapidly increasing amounts globally. This is the first study worldwide using airborne measurement techniques to quantify methane (CH 4) emissions from a producing CSG field: the Surat Basin, Queensland, Australia. Spatially resolved CH 4 emissions were quantified from all major sources based on top-down (TD) and bottom-up (BU) approaches, the latter using Australia's UNFCCC reporting workflow. Based on our TD-validated BU inventory, CSG sources emit about 0.4% of the produced gas, comparable to onshore dry gas fields in the USA and The Netherlands, but substantially smaller than in other onshore regions, especially those where oil is co-produced (wet gas). The CSG CH 4 emission per unit of gas production determined in this study is two to three times higher than existing inventories for the region. Our results indicate that the BU emission factors for feedlots and grazing cattle need review, possibly requiring an increase for Queensland's conditions. In some subregions, the BU estimate for gathering and boosting stations is potentially too high. The results from our iterative BU inventory process, which feeds into TD data, illustrate how global characterization of CH 4 emissions could be improved by incorporating empirical TD verification surveys into national reporting. This article is part of a discussion meeting issue 'Rising methane: is warming feeding warming? (part 1)'.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20200458
Number of pages21
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number2210
Early online date27 Sept 2021
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2021


  • airborne measurements
  • Australia
  • climate change
  • coal seam gas
  • methane
  • Surat Basin
  • UNFCCC inventory


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