Crikey intern Laura Griffin writes: The Australian media is abuzz today with news of a campaign by the gas company giants for exemption from the carbon tax.

More specifically, the leaders of the major companies involved with liquefied natural gas (LNG) production have been interviewed on the radio, in newspapers and articles about it appear through the web.

This media blitz coincides with the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association’s annual conference, which is taking place in Perth today.

For starts, The Australian ran an article titled ‘Gas giants seek carbon tax breaks‘. It quotes executives from Woodside Petroleum, Santos and Chevron Australia criticising the carbon tax as ineffective and dangerous to investment in LNG and Australian economy in general, especially since, they say, other countries have shirked away from carbon tax and emission trading schemes.

The article also (rather audaciously) pre-empts what Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson was to say in the conference’s opening speech today: “LNG demand is predicted to more than double within 25 years, reaching 360 million tonnes a year and Australia is on track to be the world’s second-largest supplier of LNG by 2015.

“As a cleaner-burning fuel that can be reliably supplied to meet base-load generation requirements, LNG can meet rising global energy demand, while at the same time reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” it quotes Ferguson.

The Sydney Morning Herald this morning added that claims about LNG’s greenhouse fighting credentials are based on an APPEA report that shows that “[f]or every tonne of emissions associated with natural gas, Chinese power generators produce 4.3 tonnes using imported coal”.

The executive summary of this independent (yes, independent but funded by APPEA) report, available on APPEA’s website, claims to examine the cradle-to-grave emissions of coal seam gas (CSG).

Specifically, the report looks at emissions from CSG once it has been compressed into liquid form (LNG) and exported to China. A comparison is then made between burning this gas for electricity using various different types of generators and asks how this compares to coal.

The report claims burning coal seam gas emits less (but still a significant and problematic amount of) greenhouse gas than coal.

Crikey regular Graham Readfearn highlights on his blog the problem with describing this report as independent:

What should be noted, however, is that the report which attempts to paint CSG as a good guy was carried out by a giant resource industry service company, WorleyParsons.

Late last year, WorleyParsons won a $580 million contract to deliver “engineering, procurement and infrastructure” to a $15 billion CSG-LNG project in Queensland.

So the “independent” report was written by a company with a $580 million stake in the same industry they’re examining.

The Sydney Morning Herald did, however, report the MP Ferguson will meet with LNG and steel industries this month. Ferguson is a proponent of LNG, saying Australia will be the second biggest supplier of natural gas by 2015.

The Herald Sun outlines that the $130 billion in LNG investments being considered, “are waiting to see how the Government designs its carbon tax before they spend.”

On ABC’s current affairs morning radio show AM, Don Voelte, CEO of Woodside Petroleum said, “Everywhere else in the world understands gas. I will tell you, people in the United States see gas as the saviour — cheap, clean, transitional fuel to a better world.”

But this assertion also needs to be scrutinised.

An article in this month’s Time magazine, says that oil and nuclear crises “…have opened space for gas as a relatively clean, relatively cheap fuel that can help fill the world’s needs during the transition to a truly green economy. (As important as renewable energy is, it will likely take years for green power to shoulder the electricity load.)”

“[I]f all goes well, gas should help displace: coal. From mountaintop-removal mining to its impact on climate change, cheap coal is toxic to the human race.”

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Peter Fray
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