Gas as a pillar of Australia’s future

By Peter Milios | More Articles by Peter Milios

The Albanese government is set to defy global trends with the release of a comprehensive plan today, backing the continued extraction and use of gas beyond 2050. This move, in defiance of calls to phase out fossil fuels globally, signals a strategic shift in Labor's approach to energy policy.

Resources Minister Madeleine King is poised to unveil Labor's future gas strategy, emphasising a commitment "based on facts and data, not ideology or wishful thinking." The plan is expected to outline initiatives aimed at ramping up gas extraction, including the introduction of "use it or lose it" provisions to prevent companies from sitting on untapped reserves.

Key points from the strategy include the promotion of controversial carbon capture and storage measures for gas, alongside support for opening new gas fields such as Scarborough off the WA coast and Narrabri in northern NSW. The government's rationale for this strategy is underpinned by concerns of looming gas shortages, particularly in NSW, Victoria, and on the west coast, with warnings extending as early as 2028.

Despite global pressure to curb fossil fuel development, Australia remains heavily reliant on gas exports, with WA ranking as the world's third-largest LNG exporter. The International Energy Agency's caution against new fossil fuel projects contrasts starkly with Labor's stance, as the government doubles down on gas as a transition fuel.

In a bid to promote gas as a cleaner energy source, the industry has escalated its greenwashing efforts, sponsoring popular shows like MasterChef Australia, where contestants will cook with biomethane and hydrogen derived from gas.

However, environmental concerns loom large, with extreme weather events linked to climate change wreaking havoc globally. The Great Barrier Reef is currently experiencing its fifth bleaching event in eight years, underscoring the urgency of transitioning to cleaner energy sources.

Labor's gas strategy faces criticism from the Greens and environmentalists, who denounce it as a step backward in the fight against climate change. Greens leader Adam Bandt equates gas with coal, accusing Labor of undermining efforts to promote cleaner energy alternatives.

Internally, Labor grapples with conflicting pressures, balancing environmental imperatives with the economic significance of the gas industry. While some advocate for a rapid transition away from gas, others, including Minister King, stress its indispensable role in supporting manufacturing and ensuring energy security.

The strategy, part of Labor's broader "Future Made in Australia" policy, seeks to reconcile these tensions by positioning gas as a crucial component of the country's energy mix. It underscores the need for continued exploration and investment in the sector to navigate the path to net zero emissions.

As the government prepares to unveil its strategy, the debate over Australia's energy future intensifies, with questions lingering over the compatibility of gas expansion with ambitious climate targets. Labor's embrace of gas beyond 2050 sets the stage for a contentious dialogue on the nation's energy trajectory and its commitment to environmental sustainability.

Beetaloo Basin: A Game-Changer in Australia's Energy Landscape

Amidst this strategic pivot towards gas, the Beetaloo Basin emerges as a focal point of Australia's energy ambitions. Located in the central-northern part of the Northern Territory, this geological marvel is touted to possess globally significant shale gas reserves with transformative potential for Australia's energy market.

The Beetaloo Sub-basin covers approximately 28,000 square kilometres and is estimated to harbour a staggering 500 trillion cubic feet of gas, primarily in the Velkerri B layer. Such reserves have the capacity to revolutionise domestic supply security, drive advanced manufacturing, and facilitate cleaner energy production.

Notably, this abundance of gas resources far exceeds current domestic consumption levels, underlining its potential to reshape Australia's energy landscape significantly.

Presently, three key players within the ASX are actively engaged in developing the Beetaloo Basin. Empire Energy (ASX:EEG), Tamboran Resources (ASX:TBN), and Santos (ASX:STO) are spearheading efforts to tap into this immense resource potential.

As these companies continue their exploration and development endeavours in the Beetaloo Basin, the region's significance as a cornerstone of Australia's energy future only grows, promising economic growth, energy security, and environmental sustainability on a monumental scale.

About Peter Milios

Peter Milios is a recent graduate from the University of Technology - majoring in Finance and Accounting. Peter is currently working under equity research analyst Di Brookman for Corporate Connect Research.

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