A decision by the WA Government to ban onshore gas exports to the east has been labelled a “betrayal” of Australian states struggling with gas shortages by the state’s former premier, Colin Barnett.
Premier Mark McGowan came under fire from industry groups this week after updating WA’s domestic gas policy to prevent onshore gas extracted from WA being sent to the eastern states or overseas.
The announcement came despite a Government decision to give an exemption to a project north of Perth that is associated with WA’s biggest media proprietor.
…A former energy minister in the Court government, Mr Barnett also criticised the ban on onshore gas exports to the eastern states, which has been grappling with tight supplies that are sending some manufacturers to the wall.
The former premier has advocated building a transcontinental pipeline to supply the east coast with WA gas in a bid to deal with the problem, although a Federal Government inquiry found such a project would be uneconomic.
“I find the policy really quite strange,” Mr Barnett said.
“To ban exports of gas from Western Australia to the east coast I just think is un-Australian.
“It’s an appalling policy to adopt.
“Western Australia basically is the world’s greatest source of LNG exports internationally, and that’s a big industry.
“But why would we stop Australian gas going to the east coast?
“I just cannot believe a state government would do that — to discriminate against other Australians.”
Industry group, the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA), bemoaned what it said was a lack of consultation.
“We would think that by cutting off a potential market for an onshore development, you could in fact end up in a situation where that development does not go ahead because it’s not commercial,” APPEA director Claire Wilkinson said.
Mr McGowan fended off the complaints by saying WA faced a gas shortage later this decade and needed to shore up supplies.
The Premier has also defended his treatment of Waitsia, saying the decision to give it special status was motivated purely by job considerations.
“The reality is there’s a project that’s very shovel ready and we want to get it underway and we want to get the jobs involved,” Mr McGowan said.
“At the same time, we have a longer-term issue which is the shortfall of domestic gas in the future.
“We’ve had to balance all of those issues very swiftly and very quickly and that’s why we’ve come up with the policy we have.”
Australian-based energy advisory firm EnergyQuest’s chief executive, Graeme Bethune, said the Government’s clamp on gas exports would effectively destroy the chances of an east-west gas pipeline.
According to Mr Bethune, this would not prevent the export of West Australian LNG to markets in the Eastern States — which he argued was always a cheaper option.
He agreed WA could be affected by a supply crunch within a decade if mega LNG projects such as Woodside’s Scarborough and Browse fields were not developed and able to provide to the local market.
However, he said the Government’s decision to grant an exemption to Waitsia amounted to “picking winners” and could deter investment in other onshore gas projects which would not enjoy the same privileges.
Gas cartel champion, Bethune, whining about “picking winners”. Not for the first time, MB wishes there were a fourth law of thermodynamics governing the spontaneous combustion of extreme hypocrisy events.
This is a horrible decision but it’s entirely understandable. Why should WA see its sensible domestic reservation policy plundered by the atrociously inept east? Obviously, the east should install its own version of it.
When is the WA secession vote is what I want to know.