The Commonwealth Government’s long awaited Green Paper on future energy policy was released today, and amongst a raft of issues, development of sustainable and secure gas supplies and an efficient gas market is high on the agenda.
The Green Paper is the second consultation step in the development of a comprehensive Energy White Paper which is due before the end of 2014.
On the gas industry, the Green Paper has three goals:
- Bring on new gas supply as quickly as possible to avoid potential supply shortages so that domestic gas users do not pay higher prices than necessary
- Improve the availability and quality of market information to improve transparency and competition
- Implement other gas market development priorities to expedite gas market reform, including the finalisation of a development strategy for the unconventional gas industry
The paper says:
“There are no ‘quick fixes’ for the potential near-term supply shortage and price pressures facing gas users”
“Increasing gas supply relies on addressing community concerns and removing unnecessary regulatory barriers, although gas resource development must still be subject to necessary environmental and community safeguards.”
On the issue of domestic gas reservations and national interest tests – a position favoured by anti-industry activist groups – the report says:
“Such actions will not address current challenges in the market and may result in negative long-term outcomes by deferring future investment. Instead, more competitive markets need better market information, informed community participation, operational transparency, and accelerated project development”
To highlight the potential of Australia’s unconventional gas resources to meet future gas supply requirements, the Green Paper contains the following graphic:
And, if anyone still needs convincing of the need to accelerate development to meet demand from domestic, industrial, generation and liquefied natural gas sectors, there’s this:
The response from anti-industry activists has been entirely, and tiresomely, predictable. Lock The Gate has somehow interpreted the Green Paper as a move towards ‘forcing invasive gasfields’ onto local communities, when in fact the opposite is true.
On community consultation, the Green Paper says:
“It is important that the gas industry engage genuinely, as early as possible, with communities that have, or are likely to have, an interest in projects. Engagement allows industry to understand community views ad concerns, and allows communities to understand any project, as well as the proponent’s plans to mitigate impacts and manage risks.”
That’s hardly a signal to force gasfields onto communities!
The Government has called for public submissions on the Green Paper, closing 4 November. Submissions can be made online at www.ewp.industry.gov.au