Faults, gases and leakage: locating and quantifying CO2 and methane leaks

Reducing emissions from the extraction, transportation, and burning of fossil fuels is an important mechanism for many countries in order to limit their greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and reduce the impacts of climate change. Fugitive methane emissions occur during the mining of coal, the production of conventional gas, and extraction of unconventional gas extracted from coal seams or shales, and its further processing, storage and transportation. Verifying any claimed reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, especially fugitive methane emissions, will become increasingly important to assess the effectiveness of low emission technology reduction strategies.

This talk will discuss the advances in methods and technology that are underpinning a greater ability to locate and estimate fugitive methane emissions and carbon dioxide leaks from geological storage projects. This includes mobile high precision greenhouse gas analysers, open path scanning lasers and UAVs. While progress is being made, there are still many technology gaps and limitations in our present ability to model plume behaviour. The accuracy of eight different atmospheric emission quantification techniques was recently put to the test during a “blind” release experiment held in Canberra. The implications of this experiment will be discussed, highlighting future research needs.