EMISSIONS from coal seam gas wellheads may need to be examined if Australia wants to avoid underestimating the carbon released by the emerging industry.
A report from left-wing think thank The Australia Institute senior economist Matt Grudnoff suggested up to 62 million tonnes of "fugitive emissions" could more than expected over three years.
Fugitive emissions are those that unintentionally leak from pressurised pipes, taps or wells.
Mr Grudnoff said these leaks could cloud measurements seeking to show if our total emissions were declining.
"What's worse is that we could inadvertently be making it harder for the world to limit the warming effect of climate change below the environmental tipping point of two degrees."
Mr Grudnoff said not putting a tax on these leaked gases while others emitters had to pay was akin to giving the CSG industry up to $1.5 billion.
The report suggested moving $200 million the government has put aside from the Minerals Resource Rent Tax towards measuring fugitive emissions.
However, the peak body for gas explorers - the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association - said Mr Grudnoff was using discredited evidence.
An APPEA spokesman said the group would write to The Australian Institute regarding its use of a Cornell University study, figures used by the American Environment Protection Agency that it believes do not apply here and errors "which result in the report massively overestimating emissions".
"The industry puts in place processes to minimise emissions and comply with the law," the spokesman said.
"It is also important to recognise that gas companies are in the business of capturing and selling gas, not letting it escape."
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.