The oil and gas sector lobby group APPEA says a renewed call by the AWU for a nationwide WA-style gas reservation policy is mere protectionism.
One of the country’s biggest trade unions has renewed its call for Western Australia’s gas reservation policy to be adopted by the rest of the nation.
The state’s former premier Alan Carpenter introduced the policy in late 2006, requiring 15 per cent of gas from offshore projects to be set aside for domestic use.
A BIS Shrapnel report commissioned by the Australian Workers Union (AWU) released on Monday showed $88 billion has been invested in WA gas production, largely LNG, since the policy was introduced.
The AWU argued that meant the policy had not hindered gas investment in the state, and should be extended Australia-wide.
A BIS Shrapnel spokesman told AAP that too much east coast gas was going overseas, particularly from Queensland’s Gladstone region, because it was more profitable than the domestic market.
Companies could not be blamed for chasing the dollars, as that was their agenda, and states and territories tended to bend to their wishes to retain investment, he said.
So it was up to the federal government to impose a national interest test to gas projects.
“Sometimes, you’ve got to find a balance between the two,” he said.
But the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA), however, said the AWU campaign amounted to “gas subsidies for chosen industrial sectors” and “nothing more than protectionism dressed up as energy policy”.
“Only new gas supplies, not new government interventions, will put downward pressure on prices and drive sustainable employment opportunities for AWU members,” APPEA said.
“Rather than seeking a hand-out, those concerned by rising prices should instead join the natural gas industry in seeking the removal of the regulatory burdens currently stopping the industry from producing gas.”
WA’s DomGas Alliance, representing big industrial gas users including Newmont and Fortescue, has repeatedly called for the policy to be strengthened.