When is a so-called ‘gas crisis’ not actually a gas crisis at all?

in Medium

The simple the truth is, we have enough cheap easy-to-extract gas in Australia to last 100 years. So we at the Australia Institute have been hard at work debunking the gas lies and econobabble.

The simple the truth is, we have enough cheap easy-to-extract gas in Australia to last 100 years. As Australia Institute advisor, Mark Ogge, wrote in Crikey — there’s just one problem: private corporations are selling it all overseas.

Hard to believe, isn’t it? But it’s true. In the last decade, tens of thousands of square kms of Queensland farmland has been covered in gas fields.

The export gas rush in Australia is one of the largest and fastest expansions of a gas industry ever seen, anywhere in the world.

We are awash with gas.

The problem is we are allowing almost all of the cheap and ‘easy-to-get-at’ gas to be sent overseas.

When “Gov strikes deal with gas exporters for domestic supply” is a headline trumpeted by the media as a Coalition win, you know there’s a problem somewhere.

“Are we as a community really expected to believe that it’s generous of gas exporters to let Australians use their own gas?”

And as Prime Minister Turnbull and Minister Frydenberg turn up the heat on the Northern Territory Government, our Director of Research, Rod Campbell hit back on ABC’s PM, saying the Federal Government’s arguments are “pure politics”, and not based on economics.

And as Executive Director Ben Oquist said on SkyNews,

“It is a total, deliberate distraction to be beating up on communities who want to protect their groundwater and farming land, like those in Narrabri, to suggest they are responsible for the gas shortage.”

Three key points to remember about the so-called gas crisis —

1 // The ‘gas crisis’ is not about abundance of gas, it’s about price of gas. It’s a gas price crisis.

2 // We have tripled the amount of gas supply in eastern Australia. As a nation we’ve seen one of the biggest gas booms in the history of the planet, and yet we’re being told we’re running out.

3 // This is all about the politics of: who allowed gas exports in the first place, who should have done something since, and what can be done in the coming months.

The thing is, despite the outrageous gas prices Australian households are paying, our research shows voters back state fracking bans.

In fact, as reported in The Guardian Australia Institute research shows twice as many Australians support a moratorium on fracking in their respective states than oppose.

So the good news is despite the Turnbull Government continuing to use states and state-based fracking restrictions as a scapegoat for gas prices, our research shows voters aren’t buying it.

Sadly, the Gas Price Crisis isn’t even new

This isn’t even new, our chief economist Richard Denniss has written numerous pieces about the gas price crisis and how we got here. Back in March he wrote this blistering op-ed in the Fairfax media, Where Did All the Gas Go? likening the current gas price crisis to the Irish potato famine:

“Just as the Irish exported huge quantities of food during the famine that cost nearly one million lives, Australia is exporting record amounts of gas in the middle of an alleged ‘energy crisis’.

“You can see why Mr Turnbull would rather blame the states and environmentalists than explain clearly that so-called ‘free trade’ has losers as well as winners. But such blame shifting will do nothing to lower gas prices, or help avoid blackouts next summer.”

And in his essay in The Monthly, Feeding the Beast, Richard explores the cosy relationship between gas lobbyists and our energy policy, writing:

“Politics will decide how much harm the gas industry can do to our farms, our environment and our other industries. That’s why ex-politicians are so important to it.”

And sadly, our report Cooking up a Price Rise published four years ago in July 2013 also predicted a gas price crisis, saying at the time:

“Gas prices in eastern Australia are going to rise substantially. These price rises are not driven by a lack of supply but rather by an increase in demand.

“Once the eastern Australian gas market is connected to the world gas market, domestic gas producers will be able to sell at the world netback price — also known as the export parity price — which is substantially higher than current gas prices.”

Media Enquiries

Anna Chang Communications Director

0422 775 161

anna@australiainstitute.org.au