A series of observing system simulation experiments is presented in which column averaged dry air mole fractions of CO2 (XCO2) from the Greenhouse gases Observing SATellite (GOSAT) are made consistent or not with the transport model embedded in a flux inversion system. The GOSAT observations improve the random errors of the surface carbon budget despite the inconsistency. However, we find biases in the inferred surface CO2 budget of a few hundred MtC/a at the subcontinental scale, that are caused by differences of only a few tenths of a ppm between the simulations of the individual XCO2 soundings. The accuracy and precision of the inverted fluxes are little sensitive to an 8-fold reduction in the data density. This issue is critical for any future satellite constellation to monitor XCO2 and should be pragmatically addressed by explicitly accounting for transport errors in flux inversion systems.