Action urged to arrest slide in exploration and production

MOST Australians are unaware of a national ratio that some in the petroleum industry say spells disaster with a capital D.

Australia is consuming three times the amount of oil it is discovering and, on current production forecasts, this means the nation may be importing 60 per cent of its liquid hydrocarbon needs by 2010.

The Middle East contains two thirds of the world’s oil reserves and security of supply is already seen as an issue.

In addition, the direct economic impact will be felt by those outside of the industry, eventually in the lowering of the national standard of living.

The figures, supplied by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Geoscience Australia, have prompted the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association and industry leaders to urge Federal Government action.

APPEA executive director Barry Jones says a study of the investment plans of the big players in the Australian oil and gas industry has shown Australian production will decline markedly unless the Federal Government moves to attract more players and to support those taking the exploration risks.

A comprehensive energy supply strategy is needed to ensure approvals processes are efficient, asset depreciation rates attractive, access to capital facilitated, and support for research, exploration, infrastructure development and alternative energy sources increased, he says.

Woodside Energy managing director John Akehurst echoed APPEA’s concerns at the recent ABARE Outlook 2002 conference, underscoring the economic implications of the production and import forecasts.

Based on Geoscience Australia forecasts, the Federal Government could forfeit upwards of $1 billion annually in upstream petroleum industry tax revenue.

Mr Akehurst advocated greater exploration activity, increased infill drilling, more gas use and incentives to reduce oil consumption to assist Australia to meet its own energy needs.

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