18 May 2023

Speech: APPEA Chief Executive Samantha McCulloch closing address to the APPEA 2023 Conference & Exhibition

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I would like to again acknowledge the Kaurna people, the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we gather today, and pay my respects to their Elders past and present. I extend that respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people here today.

Members, sponsors, delegates and special guests.

Conference reflections

As we close our 2023 conference we have much to reflect on. There is also a lot of optimism for the future of our industry, and much that our industry should take pride in.

Through this year’s conference theme: Lead, shape, innovate – accelerating to net zero, we have examined the significant advances our industry is making to decarbonise the economy, and to be a leader in the energy transition.

To provide safer, more innovative workplaces.

To continually improve our environmental practices, engagement with Traditional Owners, and the broader community.

To learn from the best and brightest around the world about how we can do things better here in Australia.

This week has shown the importance of coming together as an industry to share these insights, challenge our perceptions, and shape our industry’s shared vision of where we want to be – and where we need to be – in the next 20, 30 years and beyond.

APPEA plays a unique role in facilitating these discussions. And they are vital to APPEA’s work.

Our advocacy, our ability to shape and inform the policies and regulatory environment that are important to you are guided and strengthened by your participation and your support.

Too often we focus on the setbacks, the challenges thrown our way. And – let’s face it – there have certainly been some challenges for our industry over the past months.

But also let’s consider that in this last fortnight we have seen some significant policy developments and achievements that in some cases are the culmination of years of hard work and advocacy.

The welcome commitment in last week’s Federal Budget to a Future Gas Strategy and a review of the regulatory environment for greenhouse gas storage activities – the first step in unlocking the potential of carbon capture, utilisation and storage in Australia.

The much-needed review of the environmental management regime for offshore petroleum and greenhouse gas storage activities.

The Northern Territory Government’s green light for the Beetaloo Basin development.

The recognition of our industry’s already significant contribution to government budgets and the need for long-term fiscal stability that underpinned the relatively modest changes to the PRRT.

And on Tuesday we heard from Federal Minister for Resources Madeleine King and South Australian Minister for Energy and Mining Tom Koutsantonis of their governments’ strong support for our industry and our critical role in Australia’s energy transformation.

These are significant and encouraging milestones.

Throughout this week’s conference, we have heard about the oil and gas industry’s critical role in enabling Australia’s energy security, economic prosperity, regional trading partnerships, and emissions reductions.

But we all know this.

Another key takeout from this week is that is not enough to talk among ourselves about how important the oil and gas industry is, and how misunderstood our role is in some parts of the community.

We need to do more to educate the Australian public about what our industry does.

That we provide reliable energy for Australian households and industries, supporting our transition to renewables.

That we help to maintain Australia’s strategic relationships with important regional trading partners by contributing to the region’s energy security and energy transition.

That we are literally the engine room of Australian manufacturing.

And that we are serious about playing our part in Australia’s energy transition and the path to net zero.

This is a story we need to tell better.

The national public awareness campaign that you were shown a preview of on Tuesday and, which APPEA will be rolling out in the coming weeks, is an important step towards better communicating this message to a wider audience.

Future vision

As Australia moves towards decarbonising our energy grid, households and industries, our industry is at the forefront of the challenge – and the opportunity – that this transition presents.

The International Energy Agency, the Australian Energy Market Operator and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission all recognise that natural gas is critical to our energy system and getting to net zero by 2050.

The Future Gas Strategy announced in the Budget last week shows that the government is listening to our industry on the need for a cohesive strategy to secure new gas supply and avoid predicted shortfalls.

APPEA will continue to work constructively with governments and oppositions around Australia to ensure that our industry operates in an environment that encourages investment in new gas supply and the technologies that will deliver our clean energy future.

We’ve heard this week how APPEA members are at the forefront of investing in the technologies and projects that will be critical for net zero – and that includes carbon capture, utilisation and storage.

Before taking on this role in August last year, I spent seven years at the IEA as head of CCUS, and witnessed firsthand the extraordinary global momentum for this technology. Australia must be part of this wave of opportunity.

This week we have heard from several of the global and Australian leaders on the rollout of CCUS technology and infrastructure.

As Meg O’Neil said in her Chair Opening Address, here in Australia CCUS is a technology that has been judged too soon.

That’s why Minister King’s strong endorsement of CCUS this week was so important.

Because we need to ensure that Australia is well positioned to make the most of our unique technical and geological advantages in CCUS in our region.

And the benefits that this opportunity presents go well beyond our sector. We need it to decarbonise heavy industries such as steel, cement and chemicals – in order for these sectors to meet their considerable emission targets.

This is yet another way our industry will be at the heart of an economy-wide transition to net zero, supporting and enabling other sectors to reduce emissions.

I am excited about our industry’s potential across all these areas.

And I am proud of our industry’s ambition to be a leader in the low carbon economy.

Thank you and acknowledgements

I want to thank you for taking the time to attend our conference this week, and for being part of the discussions that will shape our industry’s future.

We all know that an event of this calibre and quality is not possible without a great deal of hard work, commitment and investment by the APPEA membership and the industry as a whole.

APPEA – the Board, the secretariat, the members – are proud to provide this world-class opportunity for the entire industry to come together.

I particularly want to thank the fantastic APPEA team for bringing it all together this week, and in particular Julie Hood and her events team.

There has been an enormous amount of work over weeks and months to make this week such a success, and I ask you to join me in thanking the APPEA team for what they have achieved.

Of course, we can only do this because of the support of every business and organisation represented in this room.

In particular, I would like to thank our principal partners – Woodside Energy and ExxonMobil Australia for their strong support and investment in our flagship event.

I would also like to thank all our event sponsors and destination partners, whose unwavering support has once again helped us to deliver an outstanding conference and exhibition.

To our exhibitors, thank you to all of you who have put in an enormous amount of time, energy and investment to ensure a top-quality showcase for our delegates and guests.

I think we are all in agreement about the quality of the world-leading innovation and services that have been demonstrated in the exhibition hall this week.

To our presenters and authors, without whom this conference would simply not exist, the quality of the presentations over the last three days have been extraordinary.

The thought leadership we are seeing in our industry is exciting, particularly in response to great change and the pace of technological developments.

A reminder too that the papers prepared by our conference presenters are available in the online APPEA Journal, which all delegates can access.

And to our delegates – whose attendance at this event makes all our efforts worthwhile – and made our APPEA 2023 Conference the event it has been. Thank you for taking the time to attend and contribute this week.

To all our suppliers and contractors who are part of the huge puzzle that is the APPEA Conference – thank you for your diligent and professional support.

To the South Australian government for their phenomenal support for this conference and for making us all feel so welcome here in Adelaide.

And finally, I’d again like to thank to my team and the APPEA Secretariat – whose hard work and commitment to delivering the best event possible, ensures that our flagship conference is in good hands for years to come.

Before we wrap up and make our way to our well-earned farewell cocktails, let’s take a moment to reflect on some of the highlights from APPEA 2023 – Lead, shape, innovate – accelerating to net zero.


We are thrilled to announce that the APPEA 2024 Conference will be held in Perth, and we look forward to hosting you again next year.

Conference closing

As we close out this year’s conference I would like to invite you all to join us for farewell cocktails down by the river, proudly sponsored by Lidiar Group.

For me personally, it has been an honour and a privilege to host my first APPEA conference as the chief executive.

I look forward to working with you all as we continue to lead, shape and innovate for the long-term strength and success of our industry.