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CSIRO study to measure methane seeps from CBM development

World Coal,

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has laid out plans to conduct a new study into the effects of coalbed methane (CBM) development activity.

Researchers will investigate whether CBM activity is causing methane seeps in Queensland’s Surat Basin.

Spokesman for Australia’s national science agency, Dr Damian Barrett, said that methane escapes naturally into the atmosphere from places like the Surat Basin, where there are large coal deposits.

"The outcome of this programme of research will be to determine that natural variation of methane and also where those seeps are occurring in the landscape," he said.

However, Barrett also warned that at CBM activity increases within the basin, there remains uncertainty over what role the CBM industry has on methane seeps.

"We don't know how much methane is naturally seeping to the atmosphere and we also don't know the variation in these sources of methane," he said.

Barrett’s team will begin field surveys later in 2014 and will also use a new laser technique to identify where the seeps are.

"Samples the atmosphere at two very precise wavelengths and one of those wavelengths is sensitive to methane," he said.

The CSIRO study will give authorities baseline data to compare over the life of the CBM industry.

"We'll be able to follow the eventual impacts on methane seeps to the atmosphere from these sources," Barrett said.

The project will be funded through a partnership between CSIRO and CBM companies operating in Australia. 

Edited from various sources by Sam Dodson

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