22 Dec 2023

Transcript: Samantha McCulloch interview with Sky News Chief News Anchor Kieran Gilbert

Kieran Gilbert: Samantha McCulloch is the Chief Executive of Australian Energy Producers. Samantha, thanks for your time.  

I was just reading through this report, Resources and Energy Major Projects 2023, and oil and gas still make up the lion’s share of the projects that have been invested in.  

So, the shift that they’re talking about continually is not showing up in these reports just yet. 

Samantha McCulloch: What I think it does show is that it’s still the oil and gas sector that’s a key driver of investment in our economy.  

There’s $36 billion of projects that have been committed across the oil and gas sector reflected in this list.  

And that’s about half of all resource projects.  

And you know, this is a really important long term and substantial opportunity for the Australian economy, because we will be relying on gas, long term, consistent with net zero goals. 

Kieran Gilbert: There was one element which would have been a concern to you, that only one oil and gas project reached the final investment decision in the year to November 2023. Only one.  

What does that tell you that certainty?  

Samantha McCulloch: This is absolutely a concern and I think reflects the immense uncertainty that we’ve seen in the policy and investment environment in Australia in the last 12 months.  

Everything from interventions on the East Coast gas market, to an offshore regulatory system that is fundamentally not working, all contributing to concern around investment.  

We need that certainty and confidence to be able to invest these huge sums of capital in the economy. 

Kieran Gilbert: What needs to happen now, in your view, when it comes to gas supply, because we’ve heard how the WA gas model is the way forward, however, just in the last month or so we’ve seen reports that they’re facing shortages as well because the demand out of the resources sector? 

What needs to happen in terms of shoring up that transition? Because they say gas is a key transition fuel. How we shore that up?  

Samantha McCulloch: You’re absolutely right.  

What we’re seeing now it’s months and months of the Australian Energy Market Operator, the ACCC, warning us gas supply shortfalls on the East Coast market. 

But we’re now seeing in the East Coast where we have ample gas supply, there’s projected shortages in nine out of the next 10 years.  

The first thing that we can do to address these shortages is actually fix the environmental approval system.  

So many of these projects, particularly on the West Coast and particularly offshore, have been stuck in long term regulatory approvals that is taking years at a time when we urgently need that new gas supply, and we urgently need that new gas supply because of this important role that gas is playing across the economy, processing critical minerals, mining and manufacturing, but also backing up renewables and power generation. 

Kieran Gilbert: Samantha McCulloch, Chief Executive of Australian Energy Producers, thanks so much and Merry Christmas, we will see you next year.