(EnergyAsia, August 5 2011, Friday) — Australia has laid claim to establishing the world’s first research alliance between industry and science to support the sustainable development of coal seam gas (CSG) production and use.

Based in Brisbane, the Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance (GISERA) was jointly launched last month by CSIRO Chief Executive Megan Clark and Australia Pacific LNG’s Project Director, Page Maxson.

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is Australia’s national science and technology agency while Australia Pacific LNG is a joint venture between Australia’s Origin Energy and US ConocoPhillips to convert CSG to liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Dr Clark said GISERA has been founded to undertake research in five key social and environmental areas: groundwater and surface water, biodiversity, land management, the marine environment and socio-economic impacts.

She said: “CSIRO and Australia Pacific LNG have provided initial seed funding totalling A$14 million over the next five years for the Alliance to undertake this research into the Queensland CSG industry. (US$1=A$0.93).

The CSG industry has been providing significant quantities of gas for Queensland state for more than 30 years. It now accounts for 90% of the state’s gas supplies and about 15% of its electricity generation, and working towards advancing one of the largest resource developments in Australian history.

Mr Maxson said additional information and research about CSG are needed to address growing concerns of key stakeholders such as regional communities, farmers and conservation groups.

He said: “Science is well-placed to contribute constructively and objectively to this desire for additional information which will be used to further shape and guide the CSG/LNG industry – and this is where GISERA will play a crucial role.”

Dr Clark said: “GISERA has been designed to promote a broad membership base to ensure it delivers ‘public good’ science that will benefit the broader community and industry. This will be achieved through expanding the membership to other companies both in and outside of the industry, as well as research purchasers and providers such as government agencies and universities. Stakeholders such as agricultural industries and communities will also be sought as members.”

CSIRO said it is in a unique position to provide impartial and integrated research to the industry, regulators and the wider community.

Australia Pacific LNG, a founding member of the alliance, is the country’s leading CSG producer and reserves holder.