Australia shows way on greenhouse: US expert
Australia’s ‘decisive direction’ in handling the debate about greenhouse gases would show the way for the rest of the world, according to a leading international expert on oil and gas technology.Dr Michael Economides, Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Houston, Texas, said the greenhouse gas debate was generating an entire slew of new business opportunities.“The ongoing experimentation in Australia is likely to prove an interesting learning experience for much of the developed world, headed by the, until now, reluctant United States,” Mr Economides said.“The Australians have taken a decisive direction. The question is at what cost and what shape will it take eventually,” he said.Dr Economides said the cost to Australia was bound to be painful, whether direct, through government subsidies and regulations, or indirect, through lifestyle change or changes to the standard of living.He was speaking yesterday on the eve of an Australian visit as one of a line-up of speakers who will address more than 1400 delegates from Australia’s petroleum industry at next week’s national conference in Adelaide of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA). Dr Economides will deliver the closing address on Wednesday, April 18.Dr Economides said Australia’s political situation, of a federal conservative coalition and Labor states, explained the surge in policy debate.“It is not hard to see that the latest worldwide issues du jour of global warming and curbing greenhouse emissions are now dominating the national debate,” he said.Dr Economides said Australia had the potential to help reduce the environment footprint of carbon in the form of natural gas.“Australia is loaded with hydrocarbon resources, with enormous reserves of natural gas and, the fact is that Australia remains mostly unexplored, particularly for petroleum in frontier offshore areas,” he said.APPEA’s Chief Executive, Belinda Robinson said it was reassuring to the industry that Dr Economides acknowledged the potential of Australian natural gas.“Australia is abundantly blessed with natural gas, which is comparatively greenhouse friendly and cost effective,” Ms Robinson said.“Our vast natural gas reserves provide a major opportunity, particularly in the short-to-medium term, while nuclear power, ‘clean’ coal technology and other potential energy sources are being further researched and developed,” she said.Ms Robinson said Australia needed to adopt a portfolio approach in finding solutions to global warming.“It must be about how we can, as a nation, address our greenhouse emissions as soon, and as cost-effectively, as possible. The most significant role that gas can play is as a near-term source of electricity generation, both domestically and internationally,” she said.The APPEA conference, the annual gathering of Australia’s oil and gas industry, will take place at the Adelaide Convention Centre from April 15 to 18.