Gas win spawns challenges and opportunities

TRANSFORMATIONAL expansion, international profile and regional economic bonanzas have formed the focus of much local comment following last week’s announcement that North-West Shelf gas would deliver China its first supplies of LNG.

But some predictions have prompted calls for caution and commentators are urging a more wide-ranging view of the significance to WA.

Not wishing to detract from the initial euphoria and residual optimism, those warning that employment opportunities and a services and facilities boost will not happen overnight, have wanted to remain nameless.

However, the WA branch of the Australia China Business Council has been one body willing to go public during the past week in its push for an additional perspective.

China is purchasing clean energy – something it wants – and this must be seen to be the key to doing business with China, ACBC (WA) president Desmond Williams said.

“We can only sell to China what it wants and needs,” he said.

This was the first lesson evident within the successful bid by marketing body Australia LNG, but there was also another, plus a challenge, Dr Williams said.

“Doing business with China takes time. The negotiations have really taken a number of years, and it is true that building relationships is of utmost importance,” he said.

But this initial victory within the LNG industry also spawned a challenge to other sectors, to create successful runoff in traditional industries such as education, agriculture and health.

The future contained significant rewards for those business people who actively sought deals and opportunities that would benefit both WA and China, Dr Williams said.

State Opposition leader and former resources minister Colin Barnett has expressed concern at high-end predictions of large employment opportunities within a short period of time.

Mr Barnett viewed the LNG contract as a vote of confidence in both the North-West Shelf project and the State as a supplier.

However, he said the very significant and important outcome ought to be seen in the context of a continuing and incremental expansion of an existing project.

With the contract committing known gas reserves within the NWS venture permit area there was now increased opportunity for other projects to be developed, and for new sales to the west coast of the US and to South Korea and Taiwan.

And this was very good news indeed, Mr Barnett said.

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