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Australian coal use "absurd", says Shell boss


The boss of oil and gas explorer Shell Australia claims the country’s insistence on burning coal for electricity is absurd.

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Shell Australia chairman Andrew Smith told the Australia Petroleum Production and Exploration Association’s annual conference in Brisbane that the country could use more of its domestic gas.

“It strikes me as absurd that a nation as rich in natural gas as Australia persists in burning brown coal for electricity generation,” Smith told the APPEA conference on Monday.

“The issue here is a failure in our advocacy, coupled with a lack of political will to responsibly turn Australia’s vast reserves of gas into much needed energy, jobs, tax and revenues.”

Smith said investment in gas-generated electricity provided a tangible path toward reducing the country’s carbon emissions.

He said gas produced half the carbon dioxide and just one-tenth of the air pollutants when burnt to produce electricity.

He also added that government reports claim Australia has enough gas reserves to last 180 years, based on current usage rates.

He took particular aim at Victoria and NSW governments, saying their moratoriums stifled development of additional gas reserves.

He said in Victoria, where brown coal is used for the vast majority of electricity generation, the state government and opposition have restricted access to onshore gas reserves.

“A well-regulated onshore gas industry, like that in Queensland, is the only reliable way to displace the dirtiest power generation in the nation,” he said.

He said Victoria’s Gippsland dairy farming region was in need of economic diversification and would benefit from natural gas extraction.

Despite Australia’s vast gas reserves, he said analysts predict a looming gas shortage in the country’s southeast.

However, he praised Queensland as leading the way when it comes to liquefied natural gas.


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