As the world warms up and environmental concerns are raised, carbon sequestration and storage are just a couple of the buzz words among the industrial gas industry cited as an effective and efficient means of tackling this, with Australia having now begun testing of carbon storage and pumping 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide underground.

Environmentalists are thought to believe this does little to address the issue, but Down Under CO2 is currently being stripped from a natural gas well with the intention of finding out if the scheme can be expanded to capture CO2 from coal-fired power stations - whose emissions are blamed in part for global warming.

Government-backed researchers pumped compressed CO2 into a depleted natural gas reservoir tomb 2km below dairy country in the Otway basin, west of Melbourne, with the carbon pumped into a sandstone layer holding CO2 naturally.

Although far smaller than a similar project in Algeria's Salah gas field which is capable of storing around 1 million tonnes of CO2 each year in 1,800 meter-deep wells, the $36m project is one of a handful around the world and seen as both a significant and efficient step forward.

Peter Cook, Chief Executive of the government and industry-backed CO2 Cooperative Research Centre, commented, “What we'll have is probably the most comprehensive monitoring programme for stored carbon dioxide anywhere in the world.”

Cook indicated that the Australian test plant for so-called geo-sequestration would hopefully lead to a larger commercial plant shipping gas from coal-fired electricity plants to other underground storage basins, possibly offshore. It could also eventually help strip out atmospheric CO2 produced by burning fossil fuels such as oil and coal.

“The project has a very important role in demonstrating the technical and environmental feasibility of geo-sequestration to Australia and the world and preparing the way for its widespread application,” Cook said in a statement.

Australia, which signed the Kyoto Protocol last year, is the world's largest coal exporter and top emitter per-capita of greenhouse gases.