By ERWIN CHLANDA
“A clear message to the mining industry – the Northern Territory is the place to be.”
That message came from Nicole Manison on April 18 this year, the darling of the mining industry, judging by the reaction she got from the more than 300 delegates she was addressing at the Annual Geoscience Exploration Seminar (AGES) in Alice Springs.
Now Ms Manison is no longer the Mining Minister, nor the Deputy Chief Minister, and she got dumped to the back benches instead of becoming Chief Minster, as she had hoped.
Unsurprisingly the oil and gas industry seems worried.
Australian Energy Producers NT Director David Slama yesterday urged new Chief Minister Eva Lawler “to maintain the momentum behind the region’s major low-carbon energy projects to secure its economic goals”.
Low-carbon stands for gas in the current propaganda of the non-renewable lobby, and gas is in massive quantities in the Beetaloo Basin, between Alice Springs and Darwin.
“Onshore gas development in the Beetaloo Basin and the Middle Arm Sustainable Development Precinct are key drivers towards achieving a $40 billion NT economy by 2030,” Mr Slama put to Ms Lawler.
This comes as the voting public, especially those favouring Labor, are likely to remember that the last election was strongly fought on opposition to fracking, with the erroneous assumption that the ALP was against it.
Beetaloo is all about fracking and the next election is next year.
With Ms Manison at the helm Mr Slama had little to worry about.
The gas field in the Beetaloo Basin is a “really important” development for energy security, Ms Manison said. A fuel of transition to renewables is needed “and that is gas”. It is a cleaner fuel than coal which is still used extensively on the east coast.
The government has seen “some fantastic exploration results” in Beetaloo.
“We are working towards finalising the Pepper [fracking] inquiry [after which] we can look forward to production,” Minister Manison said in reply to a question from the Alice Springs News at the doorstop following AGES.
Given the urgent need to phase in renewable energy resources, how long will Beetaloo be working for, we asked her.
“Beetaloo will continue to operate for as long as it is commercially viable. [The companies] work towards making sure they are viable and profitable. While demand is there they will continue to operate,” the then Minister Manison replied.
Mr Slama said in a media release that the oil and gas industry looked forward to working with the new government, including Kate Worden (pictured) as Energy and Renewables Minister, to continue to deliver reliable and affordable energy supply.
“Middle Arm and the Beetaloo demonstrate how billions of dollars of economic benefits can flow in a net zero economy.
“The Beetaloo is one of Australia’s most exciting new prospects for gas supply, delivering extraordinary economic benefits and boosting energy security for the NT and east coast energy market.”
PHOTO from the 2021 AGES conference (from left): Minister Manison, Chief Minister Michael Gunner, Alice Springs airport stall staff including CEO Dave Batic and Ian Scrimgeour, Executive Director NT Geological Survey.