13/07/2004 - 22:00

Backing for energy alliance

13/07/2004 - 22:00

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The State Government has confirmed that the Western Australian Energy Research Alliance will be the recipient of Western Australia’s single largest research grant, worth $20 million.

Backing for energy alliance

The State Government has confirmed that the Western Australian Energy Research Alliance will be the recipient of Western Australia’s single largest research grant, worth $20 million.

The grant, foreshadowed in WA Business News last month, is designed to help Bentley-based ERA become one of the world’s major oil and gas research hubs.

The Government is now considering extending similar funding to a second research institute under the recently launched $50 million InnovateWA2 fund.

A spokesman for Premier Geoff Gallop said the Science Council was currently developing a strategic plan for the fund, but one possibility was to provide funding to one of the unsuccessful bidders.

The spokesman said six proposals had met all of the criteria for the $20 million grant awarded to the ERA.

The other five were in the areas of biodiversity conservation, genomic medicine, health and food, information and communications technology and marine science.

The ERA is a collaboration between CSIRO Petroleum, Curtin University and the University of WA.

CSIRO Petroleum chief Professor Bev Ronalds said the ERA would develop research and education programs expected to attract increased investment from industry and the public sector.

Woodside became ERA’s first major industry client with the signing of a $25 million, five-year R&D agreement earlier this year.

Professor Ronalds fore-shadowed similar deals with other companies.

“We are having serious discussions with one or two other companies, and less advanced discussions with a number of others, and that includes a couple of large multinational oil and gas companies,” she said.

Professor Ronalds said the ERA’s strategic focus was on three areas: helping to commercialise WA’s large gas reserves; maximising Australia’s oil self sufficiency; and ensuring sustainable development.

Premier Gallop said the $20 million grant will add value to the tremendous contribution the oil and gas industries make to the State.

“The research that is being funded has the potential to unlock huge economic benefits for WA,” he said.

Dr Gallop said the ERA proposal had a number of strengths that distinguished it from other applications for the $20 million of funding.

“These strengths include the extent to which the proposal addresses industry needs, the level of industry support and the likelihood of sustainability beyond the State Government’s funding,” he said.

“Perhaps most significantly, the WA ERA research program promises substantial benefits to the State by developing technologies that will deliver more effective exploration, more efficient production and better access to currently untapped resources.”

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