Some of the energy and resources industries’ biggest players have touched down in Perth this week for the 2019 Resources Technology Conference.
Representatives of the WA State Government, Shell, Chevron, Woodside, and INPEX lined up on stage to house a discussion on one of the industry’s cleaner energy options — liquified natural gas (LNG).
Despite half of the conference’s name being owed to technologies in the resources industry, the cast of big company players continue to stress the importance of LNG in the global market.
Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan was swift to tout the state’s key role in producing LNG and continuing to expand its presence into overseas countries.
The Premier shared that he had recently experienced some of the world’s worst smog in a visit to New Delhi — recognising the concerns held by those to address discussions of climate change and humanitarian issues.
“I care about these issues deeply,” Mark McGowan said.
“For a lot of these people, these concerns are real.”
The WA Premier is not alone in thinking that Australia’s darling mining state is home to some of the industry’s best brains and innovation.
By the numbers, WA’s exported volume of LNG between 2016 and 2017 reached 28.7 billion tonnes for $12.7 billion in sales. LNG alone accounts for 66 per cent of WA petroleum sales.
McGowan even bantered with panel moderator Andrew McConville, Chief Executive of the Australian Petroleum Production, on Western Australia’s ability to carry the rest of the states to profits.
“Queensland ran out of gas, as I understand it,” he joked to a laugh filled room.
Extending an olive branch
“Employees want to be part of something that they want to be proud of,”Woodside Energy Chief Executive Peter Coleman
What steered the majority of the panel’s discussion on Wednesday was the unique opportunity Australia holds to supply clean energy alternatives to the rest of the world.
In calling back to the smog issues of New Delhi, McGowan expressed a positive attitude to offering LNG jobs to outside countries such as China, Japan, and Korea.
Panel moderator Andrew McConville brought attention to the climate-change minded protestors that filled the steps outside the convention centre the same day.
“There’s, as there rightly should be, people expressing their opinions outside,” he said.
“How do we address that challenge of perception in terms of what the industry is, to then get people in here, and capture those enormous opportunities [of bettering energy use],” he asked the panel.
Woodside Energy Chief Executive Peter Coleman was firm on his stance when it came to discussions of tackling carbon footprints and the backlash from the Australian Public.
“We don’t have a problem,” he said.
“For every hundred professional employees we bring in each year through our graduate program, we have 7000 applications. So I don’t read that as a problem.”
Peter described jobs within the energy and resource industries as high quality that will continue to attract workers.
However, the Woodside leader said his company was committed to being part of an energy transition that will tackle how to incentivise the Australian public getting involved for cleaner opportunities.
“Employees want to be part of something that they want to be proud of.”
He acknowledged that clean energy solutions are apparent in the more radical options like solar farms, but still pose a major carbon footprint.
The aforementioned difficulties are only moving carbon footprints from consumers to producers as he explained it.
“Energy intensity is still high [in these instances].”
Tying the issues together with tech
“Our [energy] industry has always been very technology savvy,”Chevron Australia Managing Director Al Williams
With some of the industry’s leading minds on stage in one place, discussions on using tech for the better arose.
Chevron Australia’s Managing Director, Al Williams, was all hands on when it came to welcoming a digital revolution in the industry.
“What we’re able to do now is actually utilise digital solutions in support of us being able to continue [efficiently support sustainability],” he said.
“I won’t undersell the fact that our [energy] industry has always been very technology savvy. “
Representatives of Chevron were at the event itself, showing off in-house made augmented reality that made use of Microsoft’s HoloLens headset.
Chevron Australia software developers said they’re aiming to create a ‘hands free’ working role for its employees on the field and speed up production.
Al described the effort to bring cleaner and safer energy solutions to the rest of the world as a shared effort and commitment.
In bridging that gap, Woodside’s Peter Coleman was firm on the problem being a way to incentivise the greater public’s understanding of these opportunities.
“We do need to have a common purpose and we need to incentivise,” he said.
“We need to stimulate and encourage.”