(EnergyAsia, April 30, Monday) — Australian science agency CSIRO has presented a ‘technology roadmap’ defining future research priorities as key to helping the country develop its growing natural gas industry.
Developed in close consultation with industry, CSIRO said the roadmap addresses the needs of both conventional and unconventional gas industries and covers the value chain from exploration, production, processing, utilisation and end use.
Australia’s large natural gas resource has the potential to provide security of supply for transport fuels for Australia, particularly with the forecast declining levels of self-sufficiency in oil.
However, CSIRO Petroleum’s deputy chief, Dave Whitford, said there are significant technological hurdles which must be overcome before the full potential of gas is realised.
“Many of the technical issues are unique to Australia and therefore demand local solutions Ð we cannot necessarily rely on imported technology,” Dr Whitford said.
“Much of Australia’s large gas resource is economically stranded, with 80% located in remote offshore locations. To access these resources, research and development are required to drive down production and processing costs.”
Gas is the fastest growing fuel in Australia and provides the opportunity for significant wealth generation for the country. It also has the lowest carbon dioxide emissions of all the fossil fuels.
“Gas has the potential to make a major contribution to lowering greenhouse gas emission levels from energy consumption, even without carbon capture and storage,” he said.
“Given the diverse range of research opportunities, Australia has the potential to become a global leader in gas technologies.”
It was the identification of these research opportunities that led to the AusGas initiative, conceived in 2004.
“Gas has the potential to make a major contribution to lowering greenhouse gas emission levels from energy consumption, even without carbon capture and storage,” Dr Whitford said.
CSIRO Petroleum’s commercial advisor, James Pullar, said AusGas is a national alliance of research centres in partnership with industry to address the technology challenges of the local gas industry.
“A series of AusGas industry forums explored the opportunities and challenges for the industry,” Mr Pullar said. “The principal drivers for gas-related R&D are the need to reduce costs and reduce emissions while ensuring long-term security of supply. It was from these consultations that the technology roadmap has been developed.”
The roadmap identifies three main areas of research focus: a secure and competitive supply of energy – particularly for transport fuels – low emissions energy and wealth generation.
“The roadmap sets high-level goals and pathways to achieve these goals so that Australia can realise the full potential of its gas future,” Dr Whitford said.