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Cooper Energy weighs climate change risk and rewards

Business

Oil and gas giant Cooper Energy says more serious heatwaves pose a threat to some of its South Australian operations, but that climate change might also significantly benefit the company.

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In a report released to the Australian Stock Exchange this morning, Adelaide-based Cooper Energy identified climate change as both a key physical and reputational risk, but also a commercial opportunity.

“The key physical risks identified (included) increased number of extremely hot days – over 40 degrees Celsius – during summer, particularly in the non-operated Cooper Basin ventures,” the 2019 Sustainability Report says.

Those assets – most of them operated by Beach Energy on Cooper Energy’s behalf – are located in the state’s northeast.

The company considers the main risk of heatwaves to be managing the risk of heat stress on its employees.

Higher sea levels were also identified as a key climate change-related risk, but the company believes none of its assets are vulnerable to rising oceans over the next 50 years.

Likewise, bushfires were seen as a risk, but not to the Cooper Basin assets.

“The key non-physical transition risks are the potential for reduced oil demand in the medium to long term and the societal attitude to investment in gas and oil companies,” the report continues.

“The increasing role of gas represents a significant opportunity for Cooper Energy to contribute to emission reduction.

“This is the outcome of both the anticipated increase in global demand for gas as the world transitions to a less carbon intensive energy system and the forecast increasing gas supply-demand imbalance in south-eastern Australia.”

The report details a number of scenarios under which the company could benefit from increased demand for natural gas – which, it describes as “by far the cleanest of the fossil fuels”.

Cooper Energy cites forecast growth in global demand for gas of 43 per cent between 2017 and 2040, under the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) ‘New Policies’ scenario.

“Even the more radical IEA Sustainable Development Scenario, designed with a view to limiting warming to under two degrees Celsius, and which envisages no change in overall primary energy demand between 2017 and 2040, anticipates global gas demand growing by 11 per cent by 2025 and flattening after that through to 2040,” the report reads.

“Overall, given the time horizon of the current and anticipated Cooper Energy projects, it is considered the company’s operations are resilient to the risks identified and the company is well placed to both contribute to emissions reduction and to benefit as society moves to lower carbon power sources, particularly gas.”

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