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NERA funds eight Australian projects set to improve global energy competitiveness

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World Coal,

NERA – the Australian Government’s energy resources industry growth centre – has announced funding of AUS$2.1 million for eight national projects, aimed at improving the global competitiveness of the sector, by addressing key industry issues relating to sustainability, efficiency and diversity. The projects are expected to leverage an additional AUS$2.4 million in industry funding, bringing the total value to more than AUS$4.5 million.

The latest round of funding comes in addition to the broad range of projects already underway, which have been made possible through NERA’s collaborative commitments from the AUS$15.6 million Project Fund.

NERA received over 80 applications from consortia, made up of industry, research and talent organisations, small businesses and entrepreneurs, in a competitive bid to share in the funding available.

The projects have been selected to deliver results on a national scale, have sector-wide impact, and are aligned with NERA’s Sector Growth Priorities, defined in the 10 year Sector Competitiveness Plan.

“NERA’s projects have been selected to deliver national impact, not just for one or two companies,” NERA Chief Executive Miranda Taylor said. “This competitive matched funding program aims to invest in bold, innovative initiatives that will transform the energy resources sector to a digital, globally networked and low carbon-based economy. These collaborative projects aim to combine technology and new business models to drive efficiency, productivity and co-create value and commercialisation opportunities.

“NERA global benchmarking has already revealed more than AUS$10 billion in value, which could be unlocked across the energy resources sector.

“Our latest round of projects will assist us to build on the advantages, capabilities, capacity and opportunities that we have right here in Australia and critically, will enable us to commercialise into global export markets.

“Australia is richly endowed with a wide range of natural resources that have and will continue to provide the vital energy and electricity required to support a modern, digital and connected economy. The energy resources sector will play a leading role in the energy transition, deliver the future prosperity of Australia and energy solutions to the world.”

The successful projects will receive co-funding from NERA’s AUS$15.6 million Project Fund, upon the formalisation of contracts.

In conjunction with these recently-announced projects, funding has also been provided to the Transforming Australia Subsea Equipment Reliability (TASER) project. Led by Wood Group and in collaboration with Chevron, Shell and Woodside, TASER will create a ‘living laboratory’ to improve subsea equipment design and protect against marine growth on subsea equipment.

Optimisation of operations planning for coal export terminals (QLD/NSW)

Under a joint initiative with Aurecon Australia, Queensland University of Technology and Newcastle Coal Infrastructure Group (NCIG), this project involves developing a schedule optimisation tool, which has the potential to improve productivity by as much as 10%. Allocation of terminal equipment in unloading trains and loading ships for coal exports is currently supported by software rather than scheduled by a computational tool. This project has the significant potential to reduce costly delays due to equipment allocation clashes and as such, improve efficiency.

Commercialisation of a new geostatistical technique (QLD)

An innovative, new ‘research code’ has been developed by the University of Queensland Centre for Coal Seam Gas (on behalf of Australia Pacific LNG, Arrow Energy, Santos and the University of Queensland). To enable this code to be used by industry professionals, the centre will integrate it with a software modelling package and develop trial uses and demonstration data sets. The availability of a plug-in to the software will improve resource estimation and flow modelling, leading to better production performance forecasting. Coalbed methane stakeholder companies can use the plug-in and its results to increase efficiency in production and decrease the risk associated with flow connectivity.

Converting tight contingent coalbed methane resources (QLD)

This project, being led by the University of Queensland Centre for Coal Seam Gas (on behalf of Australia Pacific LNG, Arrow Energy and Santos) will develop application methodologies for graded particle injection in tight, low permeability coal reservoirs. The project will model unique properties of graded particles and develop transport models for implementing graded particles to improve hydraulic fracturing treatments. In addition, this technology is applicable for stimulation of other naturally fractured, unconventional resources (e.g. tight gas, shale gas).

Identifying different sources of sub-surface methane in groundwater (QLD)

Improved understanding and analysis of the sources of methane detected in groundwater is important for resource developments, regulators and the public. Methane is often detected in groundwater and monitoring bore samples, however there are many potential sources from which the methane could be derived. This project, led by the University of Queensland’s Centre for Coal Seam Gas (on behalf of Australia Pacific LNG, Arrow Energy and Santos) focuses on developing a definitive ‘fingerprinting’ methodology. The project will build on expertise from within the gas companies as well as recent work done by researchers, that suggests certain combinations of hydrochemistry and isotope gas chemistry could definitively identify certain methane sources. The aim of the project is to provide a tool box and industry standard for sampling water bores and gas wells, with analysis techniques to differentiate fugitive subsurface gas from other naturally occurring gases.

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