Co-operation is expansion key, BG chief says

The second-stage expansions of multibillion-dollar export gas projects being developed in Queensland will involve either consolidation or co-operation between the existing players, British Gas says.

The second-stage expansions of multibillion-dollar export gas projects being developed in Queensland will involve either consolidation or co-operation between the existing players, British Gas says.

"The next wave [of projects] will see co-operation," the chairman of BG Australia, Catherine Tanna, said on Wednesday at an AFR luncheon, in front of shareholders in two of the other Queensland projects, Origin Energy and Santos.

Along with a project in Queensland, BG is developing an export gas project in Canada, and if competitors went down the consolidation or co-operation path "we will have to follow", Ms Tanna said.

"Australia has enormous opportunity to be part of that next wave," Origin managing director Grant King told the lunch. "The projects are going to happen ... those conversations [between rival projects] are happening."

Earlier optimism that Origin would proceed with a phase-two expansion of its Asia Pacific LNG project has faded for now, amid investor caution over bringing the initial development on stream.

Growth in global gas demand would run at 2.6 per cent annually up to 2025, Ms Tanna said, with growth in gas supplied from export projects to expand at an annual average 5 per cent.

"The market today is pretty tight ... Australia's projects will bring the market back into balance," she said. "The market will be tighter for longer. Demand from Asia is very very strong."

A 1 per cent rise in China's gas demand would equate to the tonnage of two of the three Queensland projects already being developed, Ms Tanna said, highlighting the importance of Asian demand for gas, along with the prospects that the region could soak up even more gas from Australia.

BG has four export gas projects on the drawing board globally, with projects in East Africa and the US and those here and in Canada.

In the domestic energy market, electricity prices have been pushed sharply higher in recent years in some states due to heavy spending on network upgrades. The cost of renewable energy now accounts for close to a third of electricity bills.

The carbon price had been expected eventually to take over from the renewables target, Mr King said, but this was not likely to occur.

The low carbon tax, which will fall further once the floor is removed next year, has served to push up the relative cost of renewable energy sources.

"They were to converge, but they are diverging," he said.

This means the approach to the 20 per cent renewables energy target may need to be rethought.

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