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Industry urges Australia to “discover wealth” of new oil and gas fields, contrary to IEA warning | Australian News


Fossil fuels have joined the Morrison government in rejecting scientific warnings that new oil and gas fields should not be discovered if the world wants to cope with the climate crisis, and a national conference heard that Australia must be “smart enough” to support further expansion.

The increase in gas and oil supplies was “absolutely part of the solution” to decarbonising the economy, it was said at the annual conference of the Gas Industry Group of the Australian Oil and Exploration Association (Appea).

Pressure to open new fossil fuel basins in Australia, supported by both major parties, runs counter to the International Energy Agency’s warning that no new oil or gas fields or coal mines should be developed if the world had a chance to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, this is the goal agreed at global climate meetings.

IEA Head Fatih Birol repeated this point last weekSaying that new oil and gas fields will have little effect on the energy crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will take years to move forward and record fossil fuel use and high greenhouse gas emissions for decades.

Birol suggested that expanding existing fields could be justified, but said new developments could become unprofitable assets if the world managed to move to clean zero and the momentum to move to clean energy would never be greater. He replied to Guardian investigation who have discovered that fossil fuel companies, including some from Australia, are planning “carbon bomb” projects that will bring the globe to catastrophic levels of warming.

A a peer-reviewed study published on Tuesday suggested that, in addition to new developments that are not moving forward, almost half of the existing fossil fuel production sites will need to be closed early to keep the 1.5C target viable.

A spokesman for Morrison’s government said the coalition remained “firmly committed to gas recovery.” They said the government supported measures to open the Bitalo basin in the Northern Territory, and increasing oil supplies was “the best way to reduce prices in the long run.”

“Companies like Woodside and Santos are allocating billions of dollars to new gas projects in Australia, demonstrating the industry’s confidence in its long-term future,” he said.

Workers did not answer questions prior to publication.

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Ian Davis, Chairman of Appea and CEO of Senex Oil and Gas Company Energy, said at the gas conference that the IEA’s zero scenarios suggest that oil and gas will continue to be used in 2050 and should be “absolutely part of the solution” to decarbonisation. But he said the ability to capture and store carbon dioxide on a massive scale would have to play a central role if the industry was to become part of global decarbonisation.

Davis described carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS) – usually involving capturing emissions and burying them underground – as a “proven technology” and said Australia is home to the world’s largest project, Chevron’s Gorgon development in Pilbury. It started operating in 2019 and buried 6 million tons of emissions.

About 30 CCUS projects around the world were heard at the conference. Santos began work on a global CCUS project in Mumba, South Australia, which buried 1.7 million tons per year, and ExxonMobil buried 9 million tons annually worldwide.

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Opponents say the CCUS is economically unprofitable on a scale despite receiving billions of dollars in government support, including more than $ 400 million from the Morrison government. Global energy emissions last year amounted to 36.3 billion tons.

Davis said: “The fact is that there are proven examples of CCUS, and that fact matters.”

He said that instead of continuing to be a net importer of petroleum products, Australia should “achieve oil security” by encouraging investment in new developments such as Santos’ proposal to open a Bedouit basin in Western Australia and expand “existing basins where possible”.

“Will we be smart enough to unlock wealth to support our own domestic industry and profit from exports for our country?” he asked at a conference in Brisbane, under the slogan “positive energy for a changing world”.

The Guardian Australia has asked Australia’s largest gas companies to respond to an IEA statement on the development of new gas fields. Santos declined to comment.

A Woodside spokesman claimed this Scarborough development at $ 16 billion was an existing gas field, not a new development as already discovered. Last year, the company announced that it had made a final investment decision to develop a field 375 km off the Pilbary coast and expects production to begin in 2026.

A spokesman said Woodside aims to reduce emissions by 30% by 2030, relying in part on carbon offsets, and “striving” to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 or earlier.

“Woodside sees the important role of Scarborough gas in the transition to energy,” the spokesman said.

Gas is often described as coal emissions from burning by about half, but global studies have shown that the actual figure may be higher due to leaks during extraction and transportation.

Resource Minister Keith Pete and Labor Labor Shadow Minister Madeleine King were due to address the Appea video conference on Wednesday and Thursday respectively.

Green leader Adam Bandt joined anti-climate protesters at a conference on Tuesday. He called on the next government to join the promise to reduce methane emissions – a powerful greenhouse gas emitted from gas production – by 30% by 2030. he said.


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