Community Bulletin 27

Issued 26 September 2019

Independent baseline measurement and monitoring of landscape methane emissions in the Beetaloo Sub-Basin was completed in February 2019 by CSIRO’S Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance (GISERA), with the final report now available online.

This baseline monitoring was conducted in accordance with recommendation 9.3 from the Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the Northern Territory’s Final Report.

The Northern Territory Government commissioned CSIRO GISERA to complete three mobile survey campaigns over a six-month period between July 2018 and February 2019, capturing both the wet and dry seasons. These surveys were conducted across all exploration permits in the Beetaloo Sub-basin, involving all the pastoral leases in this area.

The surveys showed that the majority of the methane concentrations recorded were within the average range, with isolated pockets of slightly elevated levels mostly attributable to grazing cattle.

The vehicle surveys covered approximately 15,000 kilometres on roads and tracks over a cumulative total of 29 days.

Average atmospheric methane concentration across the survey area ranged from 1.80 to 1.82 parts per million – equivalent to the background concentration of approximately 1.80 ppm expected in rural or natural areas.

Each survey observed isolated sources of slightly elevated methane concentrations in some areas; identified to be attributed to grazing cattle, townships, fires, termites, wetlands and a small section of above-ground pipeline.

No elevated methane concentrations were detected at the 11 plugged and abandoned or suspended petroleum wells, or 21 water bores that were specifically investigated. An additional four water bores had slightly elevated concentrations, however, each bore had hundreds of cattle within close proximity, acknowledged to be a contributing factor to the slightly elevated concentration.

This demonstrates that plugged and abandoned petroleum wells are not ‘leaky’ and have been undertaken in a manner that is safe, not detrimental to the environment and in accordance with legislation and well operations’ standards.

Results of these studies are important for delivering on the recommendations of the Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the Northern Territory.

Individual reports are available for each of the three surveys produced, in addition to the final report, and can be viewed on the GISERA website.

Read CSIRO’s GISERA media release: CSIRO’s GISERA completes baseline studies in Northern Territory’s Beetaloo Sub-basin

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