Woodside Petroleum chief says ‘limited scope’ for reducing emissions

Pluto LNG plant. Image: Woodside Energy

Woodside Petroleum chief executive officer Peter Coleman has conceded that the company will find it difficult to reduce emissions at its operations.

Speaking at an annual general meeting in Perth, Coleman said Woodside was working to improve the energy efficiency of its operations, but in “reality” there was limited scope to reduce emissions.

Citing statistics from the International Energy Agency (IEA), Coleman explained that the switch from coal fuel to cleaner liquefied natural gas (LNG) of the type that Woodside specialises in had already “helped avert 95 million tonnes of [carbon dioxide] emissions in 2018”.

The IEA reported that the rapid growth in renewables was not yet sufficient in meeting global electricity demand, with gas accounting for nearly 45 per cent of the increase in energy demand.

“We are developing options for offsetting emissions, but it is important there is an holistic approach that takes account of the emissions reductions that are secured globally when our product displaces higher emissions fuels,” he explained.

Woodside chairman Richard Goyder, whose speech preceded Coleman’s, said natural gas was “crucial to setting the world on a sustainable energy path.”

“Energy demand is set to rise in coming decades right at the time when we need greenhouse gas emissions to fall in line with the Paris Agreement,” he said.

Goyder suggested natural gas could support the take-up of renewables by replacing higher emission fuels.

Woodside’s net profit after tax increased by 28 per cent in 2018 to $US1.36 billion ($1.94 billion). The company is focusing on growth through developments at its Western Australian operations such as Scarborough in the Carnarvon Basin, the Pluto LNG facility and Browse facility.

The company signed a joint venture agreement at Scarborough in 2018 with minority partner BHP.

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