Renewable energy focus at Woodside subsidiary

PERTH-based oil and gas group Woodside has launched a subsidiary to capitalise on the push for renewable and sustainable energy sources.

Based at new premises at the top end of the Terrace, Metasource will focus on a range of unconventional energy sources and technologies.

Metasource managing director Richard Beresford said Woodside was not trying to “green” its image but simply trying to use technologies that would use energy more efficiently.

Over the past few years Woodside has been busy forming sponsorship, research and investment alliances with a view to generating and retailing cheaper, alternative and localised power throughout Australia and internationally.

Mr Beresford said the venture began opportunistically when Woodside invested $5 million in the CSIRO company Ceramic Fuel Cells Limited, with a view to using natural gas fuel cells to generate electricity for its own operations and perhaps market the technology to similar projects.

Market interest in this field prompted Woodside’s move to create Metasource as a spin-off.

The subsidiary is involved with a range of partners in five research and development projects in Australia. One of Metasource’s most promising is looking at synthetic natural gas hydrates at the Woodside Research Institute at Curtin University of Technology.

Metasource has also invested US$3 million in wave power generation company Ocean Power Technologies, which is already installing electricity generators off Portland Victoria, on behalf of Powercor and the Australian Greenhouse Office.

Another Metasource project, a multi LNG-fired power station venture with Energy Equity Corporation, could supply cheaper and more reliable power to the West Kimberley region.

The company is also looking at using biomass energy in the far south east of the State and already has one million oil mallee seedlings.

Metasource is also setting itself up as an advisory company.

“Our focus will be providing solutions through these new technologies and on the practical implementation of these solutions,” Mr Beresford said.

“Metasource has been organised to give appropriate focus to Woodside’s focus on new energy technologies.

“We’re organised to serve the market with smaller projects and smaller lead times and we’re looking at growing beyond WA. We’re looking to be an international success story.”

Last week, Standards & Poor boosted Woodside’s credit rating to A-.

It remains to be seen how the market reacts to the company’s new public focus, its likely talks with suitors such as BHP and Santos and revenue-sharing developments in the Timor Sea.

Mr Beresford is a director of both Ceramic Fuel Cells Limited and Ocean Power Technologies.

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