Government backs unconventional gas for domestic supply

By Courtney Pearson

April 17, 2015

THE Federal Government has thrown its support behind unconventional gas as part of its Domestic Gas Strategy, which describes Australia as an “energy superpower”.

The government recognised the onshore gas industry as an important energy source, with unconventional gas responsible for about 40 per cent of the east coast gas market.

Industry and Science minister Ian Macfarlane said the government needed to develop its energy assets in an environmentally and economically responsible way through scientific data and expertise.

“The Australian Government’s Domestic Gas Strategy will ensure all decisions about the development of gas reserves are based on a comprehensive body of science and research that is detailed, easily accessible and answers the questions communities are asking as they work with the gas industry,” he said.

“By undertaking and distributing scientific research, the Australian Government supports the work of regulators and helps communities realise the benefits of responsible development.”

Research has been completed or is underway to answer environmental, health and other socio-economic questions, according to Mr Macfarlane.

Government support for the unconventional gas industry, which has been the source of contentious environmental issues, was welcomed by key industry bodies.

Australian Pipelines and Gas Association chief executive Cheryl Cartwright said by providing information to communities about the safety of unconventional gas the government would help increase opportunities for domestic gas supply.

“The science is in,” she said.

“Nevertheless, the government must not underestimate the challenge of overcoming an emotional, rather than logical, response to gas development and the need to provide communities with information about the science as well as an effective and appropriate regulatory regime.”

The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association also welcomed the announcement, stating the greater community consultation was already reaping the benefits in Queensland through a greater understanding of resource operations.