Resources lobbyists show support for energy white paper

The release of the federal government’s Energy White Paper has attracted widespread support throughout the resources sector.

The paper’s recommendation to accelerate development of a more liquid wholesale gas market and to reduce impediments to development of gas supplies saw strong support from the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA).

However the lobby group maintained there was “no need for an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission inquiry into a gas market that already works”, citing the impact of a protracted inquiry on investor confidence in committing to exploration and development.

APPEA acting CEO Paul Fennelly said that long term policy which rejected gas reservation would be an important signal to investors in an industry which requires high capital input for development, and timely approvals.

“Policies that enhance Australia’s attractiveness as a place to do business and encourage industry to increase domestic gas supplies can deliver another wave of prosperity in addition to the current $180 billion pipeline of investment in liquefied natural gas export projects,” he said.

Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche expressed alarm at the revelation that Australia had failed to meet its commitments to maintain a 90 day national fuel stockpile, under the international Energy Agency treaty.

“The nation’s inability to supply transport fuels by diversifying our supply mix means that Australia is increasingly exposed to global geo-political risks,” Roche said.

“Queensland is well endowed with the expertise to bring into production a whole portfolio of alternative fuel technologies including gas-to-liquids, coal-to-liquids, shale-to-liquids, biofuels (ethanol/biodiesel), micro-LNG and CNG.

Roche said various fossil fuel developments had the potential to make significant employment and tax contributions and diversify Australia’s fuel supply mix.

“Each technology has a different potential to contribute in terms of volume, cost and timing, but the diversification they offer the Australian economy simply hasn't been recognised in the White Paper,” he said.

Roche also pointed out that while the paper the need for more investment in exploration, infrastructure, innovation and skills, it had failed to investigate how this could occur for alternative fuels.

Association of Mining and Exploration Companies CEO Simon Bennison welcomed the prospect of a step forward in energy reform, but expressed disappointment at the limited reference made to exploration and mining of uranium for the future of low emission energy.

“Surely, this is a great opportunity to get some alignment and agreement across all Australian jurisdictions on a pro uranium mining sentiment,” Bennison said.

“The Terms of Reference of the Royal Commission into the future role of South Australia in the nuclear industry should provide an opportunity to debate the key perceived issues and concerns associated with uranium mining.

“This will then allow energy and climate change policies to be interwoven and consistent throughout Australia.”

The white paper forecast that energy demands will increase by one third in Australia by 2040.

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