Over three days Mr. Macfarlane will meet with a series of multinational resource companies as well as the American Vice-President, Dick Cheney, and the US Secretary of Energy, Spencer Abraham.
"This is an important foot-in-the-door visit as the West Coast of America is firmly within the sights of our burgeoning LNG industry. Our chief goal on this trip is to spruik the wide-ranging benefits of Australian gas and set the stage for future contracts," said Mr. Macfarlane.
Gas is consumed at a much higher rate in the US with 34 percent of the industrial and 21 percent of the residential markets relying on this source of energy. In Australia, gas accounts for about 18 percent of all primary energy usage.
"We use less than one trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of natural gas a year in Australia but we have supplies approaching 200 Tcf and exploration continues to uncover more reserves. There are a number of US West Coast LNG import terminals proposals on the horizon and Australia is an obvious source for much of that supply," he said.
Energy consumption in the US is set to grow by 32 percent over the next 20 years but at the moment all import terminals are on the East Coast.
"Australia has massive undeveloped resources of natural gas and we have a track record of building very large projects like the North West Shelf. Winning the fiercely contested contract to supply LNG to China in 2002 shows that we are also a reliable, stable and very competitive supplier of LNG," he said.
Australia has now emerged as a major player in the LNG sector with exports currently worth $2.6 billion. These exports are likely to double in the next few years. The latest expansion at the North West Shelf starts up in mid 2004 and Australia's second LNG plant, currently under construction in Darwin, will be completed by 2006.
The Gorgon and Sunrise projects are well advanced and other projects under consideration include Browse Gas and Scarborough – both in Western Australia. Australian LNG exports could be worth $10 billion within 10 to 15 years.
"A study conducted in conjunction with the Action Agenda found that a typical LNG project would increase GDP by more than $4 billion per annum and create more than 40,000 jobs."
"Successfully carving out a niche for LNG in the United States will clearly mean greater prosperity for all Australians", said Mr. Macfarlane.
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