24 May 2024

Speech: Samantha McCulloch closing address to the 2024 Conference & Exhibition


Members, sponsors, delegates and special guests. 


What a fantastic week it has been.  


Full of compelling, informative and thought-provoking presentations and conversations.  


Congratulations to all our award recipients last night, too. There is some outstanding work being done across our industry, and it’s great to acknowledge and celebrate it.


As our 2024 conference comes to close, we have much to reflect on, and much to be proud of. I have been encouraged to see this week, throughout the conference – in the plenary sessions, the technical presentations, the conversations on the exhibition floor – that the optimism I have for the future of our industry is shared by so many of you.



We chose this year’s conference theme: Delivering the New Energy Economy, because our industry has a compelling story to tell about the critical role that we have to play in Australia’s energy security and net zero transformation, and in the energy security and decarbonisation of our region.   


The Future Gas Strategy released by the Federal Government earlier this month was unequivocal on the long term and critical role of gas.  


We heard from Resources Minister Madeleine King on Tuesday.  


As Minister King said in her speech:  


“Australian gas will continue to support our economy and our industries, and will help us win the new global competition for jobs and opportunities.” 


Let’s reflect on that last point. 


It will be our industry that will help Australia win the new global competition for jobs and opportunities. To 2050 and beyond.  


And the opportunities are massive.  


A Future Made in Australia will need Australian gas.  


Australian manufacturing will continue to depend on natural gas for its energy needs to make essential products such as steel, cement, bricks and glass that require high temperatures.    


The transition to higher shares of renewable electricity is only possible with gas backing up. 


And new industries, such as critical mineral processing, low-carbon hydrogen and ammonia, and carbon capture and storage solutions for hard-to-abate industries, will only be possible with a strong gas industry.


Yet as we heard this morning from JERA Australia Chief Executive Officer Gaku Takagi, Australia risks falling behind in the global competition for jobs and opportunities.  


It was concerning to hear that JERA is already looking to the United States for its low-carbon ammonia and hydrogen, where incentives like the Inflation Reduction Act are supporting the scale-up of these technologies.  

 If needed, JERA will also look to the United States and Qatar to meet their long-term LNG demand.  


As Takagi-san noted, it would make much more sense to look to Australia for these solutions, building on our existing, strong trade and strategic relations.” 


As we heard in this morning’s panel, energy security, economic security and national security are intrinsically linked.  


The geopolitical headwinds that General Sir Peter Cosgrove outlined in his insightful address also present an opportunity for Australia to play a more influential role in the region by delivering energy security and climate change solutions for key strategic partners. 


After all, these are global issues, and require global solutions. 


WA Premier Roger Cook made an important point again today that Western Australia – as a major energy and minerals exporter – should be prepared to see an increase in its net emissions in the near term to support even greater emissions reduction globally.


This is a mature, pragmatic approach, devoid of ideology, that ought to be supported.


We heard yesterday from Shell International Vice President, László Varró, who said Australian LNG can make a unique contribution to global decarbonisation, especially in Asia.  


He’s right. LNG demand in Asia is forecast to grow significantly in the coming decades. On our doorstep.  

Demand for carbon storage solutions will go hand in hand with the growth in energy demand in our region, and Australia is uniquely placed to be the destination of choice for safe and permanent CO2 storage.  


As a Wood Mackenzie paper presented at our conference highlights, this presents a massive economic opportunity for Australia – potentially worth hundreds of billions of dollar –  while strengthening Australia’s strategic role in the region.  


As Chevron Vice President of CCUS and Emerging, Chris Powers put in this morning’s panel, this is not just an “energy transition” – it’s an “energy evolution.” 


And, as we have heard throughout this week, it is your businesses that will drive this change through your innovation and genuine commitment to be a leader in the new energy economy.  


However, this can only happen if we have the operating environment that will support the investment in new gas supply, and in the technology, to harness this opportunity. 


It was pleasing to hear the Opposition Leader Peter Dutton this morning commit to concrete actions to support investment in new gas supply and remove regulatory barriers that are holding up projects needed to avoid looming gas shortfalls.  


We welcome the Opposition Leader’s commitment to “ramp up domestic gas production”. 




Throughout this week’s conference, we have heard about some of the amazing work the industry is doing to secure its role in enabling Australia’s energy security, economic prosperity, regional trading partnerships, and emissions reductions. 


There is optimism for the future of our industry.  


By working together, and with your continued support, we can position our industry to deliver the new energy economy.  


Thank you and acknowledgements 


In closing, 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 Australian Energy Producers membership and the industry as a whole. 


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


I particularly want to thank the fantastic Australian Energy Producers 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 Australian Energy Producers 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. 


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


And to our delegates – whose attendance at this event makes all our efforts worthwhile – and made our 2024 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 Conference – thank you for your diligent and professional support. 


To the Western Australian Government for their support for this conference and for making us all feel so welcome here in Perth. 


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 the 2024 Australian Energy Producers Conference and Exhibition – Delivering the New Energy Economy. 




We are thrilled to announce that the 2025 Australian Energy Producers Conference will be held in Brisbane, 26-29 May, 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 in the Summer Garden, proudly sponsored by Lidiar Group. 


Thank you again, and I look forward to seeing you all in Brisbane next year.