By ERWIN CHLANDA
The NT Government could use its onshore petroleum exploration and production licensing powers to deal with the absurdity of Australia being the world’s largest exporter (neck and neck with Qatar), while Aussies are paying some of the world’s highest prices for gas and electricity.
Bruce Robertson (pictured), of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, says the plethora of mistakes made in Australia by the industry and governments are about to be repeated, even encouraged, in the NT.
He gave evidence to the NT fracking inquiry this morning.
Speaking with the Alice Springs News Online he said supply and price imbalances are usually corrected by the market “but we don’t have a gas market. The four big players – Origin, Santos, BHP-Exxon and Shell – control the market.
“We are swimming in gas. Claims of a shortage are so wrong it is ridiculous,” says Mr Robertson.
The consequences are absurd:–
• The Gladstone plant, one the world’s highest cost gas producers, is operating at a loss. (Qatar is one of the cheapest producers.)
• Bass Strait gas can be bought more cheaply in Japan than in Melbourne, next-door to the field.
• “We are blessed with energy resources, wind and sunshine, we are the largest exporter of coal and LNG, yet globally we have some of the highest priced electricity,” he says.
• Losses we make on overseas trading are balanced by gouging Australian consumers, the owners of the resource under our feet.
• It’s not smart for a government to “chase down” a money losing industry – yet that’s what the NT Government is doing.
• The exploitative gas industry is developing into a key factor of the deinstrustrialisation of Australia.
• The rush into gas started with Japan turning away from nuclear power after the Fukushima disaster, but soon there was a global over-production.
• Gas retailers in Australia are now thinking of importing gas for the domestic market rather than tapping our own massive resources.
• Industries are shutting down or avoid investment in Australia.
All this is a long shot from BHP stating stating in 2012 that it could easily supply the entire east coast of Australia with affordable gas indefinitely, says Mr Robertson.
We are seeking comment from Ken Vowles, Minister for Primary Industries and Resources.
UPDATE Aug 1, 11:47am
A spokesperson for Mr Vowles said he would not comment.
By ERWIN CHLANDA