World Energy Congress: Labor Party's Fitzgibbbon: Australia oil exploration needs no incentives

Rick Wilkinson
OGJ Correspondent

HOUSTON, Sept. 7 -- Australia's Labor Party Shadow Minister for Mining, Energy, and Forestry Joel Fitzgibbbon warned petroleum explorers in the country that they are unlikely to receive oil exploration incentives if Labor wins the Oct. 9 election .

This became clear during a presentation of his party's energy policy direction at the World Energy Congress in Sydney Sept. 7.

Fitzgibbon pointed out that despite Australia's growing dependence on imported crude, the current high world oil prices should be sufficient incentive to explore for further reserves.

The shadow minister agreed that Australia is using oil three times faster than it is finding indigenous replacement supplies and leaving the country exposed to the whims of OPEC as well as instability in the Middle East.

However, he said Australia should develop and adopt a gas plan as a key part of a broad strategy to diversify the country's energy fuels mix. This would include bringing natural gas reserves—primarily in western and northwestern Australia—to the major markets in the southeast. This could be via a trans-Australian pipeline or by domestic LNG shipments.

The gas plan also would involve the development of a domestic gas-to-liquids industry that Fitzgibbon said is crucial to Australia's future energy independence.

In addition, he said the Labor Government would establish a strategy for assisting companies in commercializing stranded gas reserves. High on the agenda will be a 'gas economy strategy' backed by financial and regulatory incentives for the development of gas-based transport fuel projects.

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