In a recent address to the South East Asia Australian Offshore and Onshore conference (SEAAOC), APPEA’s CEO Samantha McCulloch highlighted that gas is the natural ally of renewable energy, stating that this fact has been repeatedly confirmed by energy authorities like the IEA and the AEMO.
Located in Darwin, SEAAOC is northern Australia’s largest and longest established petroleum conference and is a significant international opportunity to discuss key oil, gas and petroleum developments located across northern Australian and South East Asia.
McCulloch began the address by acknowledging the Larrakia people who gave her a wonderful and warm welcome upon entering the country that morning.
“It’s an exciting time for the oil and gas industry and I am proud to have recently taken up the role of APPEA Chief Executive – the voice of our members who are at the forefront of one of the great challenges of our time: rapidly reducing emissions to ushering in our cleaner energy future while continuing to ensure energy security, affordability and access,” said McCulloch.
“We as an industry are ready, willing and already addressing those challenges while remaining a pillar of the Australian economy. The industry enables almost $500 billion of economic activity annually.”
In particular, this is the case in the NT where the total gas industry supply chain supports over 11,000 full time jobs and more than 3000 businesses.
“That’s the drillers and explorers, the workers who build and maintain pipelines, the gas company employees who deliver reliable energy to customers, the gas fitters in our towns, and the gas bottle retailers in our suburbs selling our product for barbecues and campo stoves.”
To put this into perspective, approximately 11 jobs in every 100 are supported actively by the gas industry supply chain in the NT. Importantly, this is the highest concentration of gas industry workers in Australia – even more than WA.
“But given the interwoven relationship our sector has with the nation and its economy, the oil and gas industry is not just about what we are doing in our own businesses. Many people don’t realise it, but we unlock and support other major industries like transport, mining, manufacturing, and small businesses,” said McCulloch.
“We help them to make building products, keep our country moving and facilitate general economic growth by powering businesses and homes. Further, many of the everyday products we all use in our lives are made with oil or gas – from medical equipment in hospitals to tech equipment like cameras and cell phones.
“It is because of this intrinsic relationship with the nation that the oil and gas industry will be central to efforts to meet Australian and global climate goals. APPEA members have committed to net zero by 2050 and are investing in the projects and technologies needed to deliver substantial emissions reductions.”
The NT already plays a large role in this push and is set to continue to do so in the future.
McCulloch went on to explain that in addition to emissions reductions, the switch from coal to gas in several fast-growing Asian economies is aiding boosting air quality and lift the living standards for hundreds of millions of citizens.
“This reality should put paid to the argument that Australia can’t make a difference beyond symbolism when it comes to climate change,” McCulloch said.
“Darwin is playing a particularly important role given its proximity to Asia, as well as its existing energy infrastructure. There is a huge market and demand for gas on a doorstep – and for future fuels such as hydrogen – and we must seize this opportunity and the competitive advantage our proximity to Asia affords us.”
“Secondly on the decarbonisation journey, natural gas is underpinning the transition to renewables by providing firming capacity to support intermittent renewable generation. In many ways, we saw this happen on the east coast of Australia during this past winter when renewable energy failed to input enough power amid coal-powered generation outages.”
Furthermore, although natural gas remains the primary source of the NT’s electricity generation, renewables will continue to be integrated as the government seeks to reach its target of 50 per cent renewables for electricity generation by 2030
McCulloch expressed APPEA and the Australian gas industry’s support this growth for renewables.
Renewables are set to be a central pillar of meeting Australia’s energy and climate goals. The gas industry believes it’s all shoulders to the wheel to get to net zero. In fact, many of APPEA members are already integrated energy companies, having invested billions in technologies like solar and wind power.
McCulloch said its is a bright future, “and one in which we are focused on leading the way”.