21 Oct 2022

Interview: APPEA Chief Executive Samantha McCulloch with David Penberthy and Lucy Lokan on 5AA Breakfast, Adelaide

20 October 2022 

Interview with David Penberthy and Lucy Lokan on 5AA Breakfast Adelaide, South Australia 

Topics: Adelaide conference protests, role of gas supporting renewables   

David Penberthy: Plenty of mayhem down the road this week at the Adelaide Convention Centre with the farrago of ratbaggery on evidence, full display by our good friends at Extinction Rebellion. No buttocks being glued to the footpath this time. But a few pairs of hands. People called ‘oilies’ who were covered in makeshift, fake grease boarding the Glenelg tram for some unfathomable reason. A total of nine arrests were made.  

Before we talk to our next guest, I just want to read out some quotes here. I think this is the most intelligent thing – and I say this in all seriousness and sincerity – that anybody in the Australian Labor Party has said for a long time. The quotes come from the State Energy and Mining Minister Tom Koutsantonis, who was at the Asia Pacific Oil and Gas Conference this week. 

He said: “the actions of Extinction Rebellion jeopardise attempts to bring middle Australia with us on a decarbonisation route. I was there to tell the oil and gas industry conference that the need to decarbonise is coming at them at a million miles an hour. We need to start decarbonising now but the protesters aren’t interested.” And then he made the excellent point that what he was most intrigued by was their use of hydrocarbons to glue themselves to fixtures and fitings. They should practice what they preach. None of them walked there. They would have been driven there. 

Sam McCulloch is the new CEO of the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association, and she is in Adelaide at the moment. Samantha, good morning and thank you for your time. You’ve just heard those comments that our minister here Tom Koutsantonis made. What would you say to your critics who say that the industry just doesn’t get it and just doesn’t care about the planet? 

Samantha McCulloch: Good morning, David, and let me just say that our industry, the oil and gas industry that I represent, is actually committed to net zero.

The protests that we saw this week and we saw at the conference yesterday are, in fact, deeply counter-productive because most of the discussion we were having was how the oil and gas industry is contributing to emissions reductions, contributing to our climate goals and to net zero. As I said, my industry, the oil and gas industry, is deeply committed to emissions reductions.

We have set a 2050 net zero target across the industry and many of my members have set even more ambitious targets to achieve net zero and we are investing in the billions of dollars in the projects and the technologies that are actually needed to deliver real emissions reductions. 

Penberthy: I think like most of our listeners, Lucy and I, we’re people who believe in climate change and we’re excited by the work that’s being done in the renewables sector here in SA. We’ve become world leaders on that score, with solar and wind. But the reality is that where we are placed right now as a country we’re not quite ready yet to rely solely on renewables to meet all of our household and business needs are we? 

McCulloch:  We are blessed with abundant energy resources and that includes fantastic solar and wind resources. And we should be deploying solar and wind as hard and fast as possible. But we do also still need gas.

For example, to support that deployment of renewables. And we are seeing this across Australia but also across the world currently where, as we are moving away from reliance on coal and while we’re ramping up renewables, gas is playing the most important role really it has ever played in the energy mix. And it will continue to play that role in the energy mix because we need gas as a back up and as firming for that renewables deployment in the power system. 

Penberthy: Samantha McCulloch, the CEO of the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association, thanks very much for joining us this morning on 5AA. 

McCulloch: Thanks David. 

Penberthy: I think if old Kouts was listening to the start of that he might have fell of his chair given the occasional stinks we’ve had with him over the years.

But I actually think his detractors, and some of them are on the conservative side, and other people still go on about his spectacular driving record, the Labor Party needs more people like him who are prepared to talk some straight no-BS, intelligent commentary about these actions. He’s dead right. Every time you see someone chucking red paint on a Van Gogh painting a hundred new climate sceptics are born. The normal person looks at that and goes, “these people are just halfwits”. 

Lucy Lokan: And the other half just appreciate fine art! 

Penberthy: Exactly!