Using data to unlock Australia’s resource base

How university collaboration is helping industry drive productivity

About the project

NERA has partnered with The University of Queensland Centre for Natural Gas and industry operators to commercialise leading research that will improve the accuracy of the resource models used in the Coal Seam Gas (CSG) industry, contributing to more cost-effective resource planning.

To identify potentially untapped resources, Australia’s CSG industry relies on a technique that uses mathematics and statistics to estimate where gas and water might be located through a process known as geostatistical modelling.

When performed over large areas, these estimations are often based on the measurements of two adjacent areas, with data used to predict where resources might be located.

But what if current modelling isn’t providing the answers industry is looking for?

This question was posed by industry at one of the UQ-Centre for Natural Gas's workshops designed to identify some of industry's greatest challenges. Industry turned to the UQ-Centre for Natural Gas with a problem: there’s a huge amount of data being collected and used in models, but the models themselves are failing to provide the answers required of them.

It’s a challenge that researchers from the Centre, Professor Suzanne Hurter, Energi Simulation Industrial Research Chair based at UQ-Centre for Natural Gas, Dr Sebastian Hörning, Energi Simulation Postdoctoral Fellow, and their team are determined to solve.

Analysing bigger, more complex data to better forecast resource reserves


By collaborating with project partners including UQ, Santos, Arrow and APLNG, NERA's funding support and industry connections have helped integrate the code into Petrel, the most common modelling package for the prediction of oil reserves and production in Australia.

The project arrives at a crucial juncture for the energy resources sector, with demand for natural gas expected to increase by 50% by 2040 and the number of CSG wells in Queensland expected to at least double over the next decade.

This project not only helps better inform industry, but it also has academic and government applicability. From application in groundwater resources management (especially important for Australia) to understanding the distribution of rainfall, this project will benefit the wider Australian community.


expected increase in demand for natural gas by 2040

$1.6 trillion

could be unlocked for the global industry through the digital transformation process for the oil and gas industry


number of producing wells in Queensland

Collaboration brings university R&D to commercialisation

"Building a strong basis for R&D and skills in emerging digital and automation technologies is a priority if Australia's energy resources sector wants to remain internationally competitive, and this project is a key example of how investing in new industry–research collaborative programs in the latest statistical analysis techniques can have huge operational benefits for our industry."

Miranda Taylor, NERA CEO

Project Timeframe

Start: March 2018

End: December 2021

Project Funding

Total Project Cost: $520,000

NERA: $132,000

Industry: $388,000

*Funding excludes GST