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THE biggest oil and gas industry conference in the southern hemisphere will today hear how shale gas is going to “play a major role in Australia’s emergence as a global energy superpower”.

While much of the local focus has been on SA’s role as an emerging uranium powerhouse, the four-day Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association conference will hear how Australia and SA are set to benefit from predictions global energy demand will increase by a third in the next 25 years.

APPEA chief executive David Byers said SA’s Cooper Basin remained Australia’s leading onshore conventional petroleum province, and SA was a major producer of oil and conventional gas with Adelaide-based Santos and Beach Energy leading the way.

He said US experiences indicated SA’s next big growth story may lie in shale gas.

“As recently as 2006, US natural gas production was in decline but drilling technology advances have allowed US companies to commercialise gas found in deep shales, which has caused the country’s gas production to rise sharply,” he said.

“Natural gas from shale is now the fastest-growing contributor to total primary energy in the US. Only a few years ago, the US was planning to import gas from other countries but now it is building major liquified natural gas terminals to export its oversupply of shale gas.

“The SA shale industry is still in the early stages of development but many people think the state is very well positioned to capitalise upon its shale gas resources on a large scale.”

Mr Byers said the scale of the resource remained largely unknown, though a report for the US Energy Department last year estimated there was 396 trillion cubic feet of recoverable gas in the Cooper Basin – enough gas to power Adelaide for 6600 years.

“Clearly, any commercially viable unconventional gas resources in this state will readily find markets,” Mr Byers said.

“SA is clearly set to play a major role in Australia’s emergence as a global energy superpower.”

APPEA will release the preliminary findings of a Deloitte Access Economics report on the economic impact of the Australian oil and gas industry, which now has $170 billion worth of oil and gas projects currently under construction.

Mr Byers said Australia was on track to unseat Qatar as the world’s leading supplier of liquefied natural gas by the end of the decade.

“Australia has three operating LNG projects and another seven LNG projects – worth around $170 billion – currently under construction – the industry is booming throughout Australian,” Mr Byers said.

“In just the 12 months four LNG projects have been given the go-ahead representing an investment of more than $90 billion. There are also tens of billions of dollars worth of other Australian LNG projects currently awaiting sanction.

“Australia’s annual LNG export capacity is set to quadruple to 80 million tonnes by the second half of this decade.”

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