By HARRY CLARKE

GAS coupled with renewable power is a “natural partnership” on the pathway to net zero and the pairing is already reducing emissions in other countries, Australia’s oil and gas industry conference has heard.

More than 2,000 delegates have gathered in Brisbane for the APPEA 2022 Conference & Exhibition, the largest oil and gas conference in the southern hemisphere, this year themed “Positive Energy For A Changing World”.

Global energy advisory firm Resource Investment Strategy Consultants (RISC) told delegates that major jurisdictions, including the US and UK, had seen significant emissions reductions from power generation through the phasing out of coal in favour of gas and renewables.

“We now have evidence that many jurisdictions have followed this path, with lower emissions correlating not only with an increase in renewables, but also increases in gas use,” RISC managing director Martin Wilkes said.

APPEA chairman Ian Davies, CEO of Senex Energy, opening in the 2022 APPEA Conference and Exhibition

He said with batteries lacking the scale required, hydrogen at scale at least 15-20 years away, hydroelectricity limited by terrain and climate, and nuclear not an option in Australia, natural gas remained the only source available to provide the back up to renewable energy.

“If we are to navigate the next steps down the path to net zero, coupling natural gas power generation with renewable power generation is the only real current option available to most of Australia,” Mr Wilkes said.

“On its own it won’t, and can’t get to net zero, but it can go a long way towards getting us there, and can also provide support to the development and integration of other technologies that can get us there.

“Gas remains the natural partner to renewables and provides the security of supply needed when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine.”

More than 120 exhibits including models of carbon capture and storage technology, a robotic dog and drones used for monitoring and surveying and a huge excavator that can be operated autonomously, have been on show at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre.

With principal partners Woodside Energy and ExxonMobil, the conference speaking list has featured the leaders of some of Australia’s biggest companies including Santos chief executive Kevin Gallagher, Woodside chief executive Meg O’Neill and Shell Australia country chair Tony Nunan.

More than 2,000 delegates attended the APPEA 2022 Conference and Exhibition

Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA) acting chief executive Damian Dwyer said natural gas was the key to so much change and uncertainty in the world, including challenges posed by climate change, the war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This exciting event showcases the best technology and brains of our industry, helping solve the global challenges of our time – decarbonisation and energy security,” Mr Dwyer said.

“The conference will show how central gas is to our lives – making everyday products, powering homes and business and contributing to our economy, including the billions we pay to governments annually that help pay for public services and roads, schools and hospitals.

“But the agenda also highlights the importance of decarbonisation, using lower emissions technology, replacing coal, partnering with renewables, supporting manufacturing and producing hydrogen.”

APPEA Queensland Director Matthew Paull said the host state, Queensland, had long been central to Australia’s energy needs.

Mr Paull said the state had also showed its smarts to constantly evolve with the development of new opportunities.

“Queensland continues to be a key player in Australia’s oil and gas story – the second biggest petroleum workforce in the country, with about 31,000 Queenslanders directly employed by almost 9,000 businesses,” Mr Paull said.

“This is due to the heavy lifting done by the Queensland Government over the years that has fostered new areas of growth in CSG in the Surat Basin and the LNG industry in Gladstone.

“The conference is a chance to continue to move further towards a cleaner energy future for the state, with decarbonisation central to the agenda and the opportunity to take our competitive advantage in Queensland and set the industry and state up for decades to come.”

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