‘Unconventional’ gas evolution will be painful, report warns | The Australian

THE global “unconventional gas” revolution, which includes shale gas and coal-seam gas, is having very different effects on the energy futures of Australia and the US.In the US, large-scale shale gas production has led to a gas glut that has seen domestic prices plummet and spurred a manufacturing renaissance.In Australia, breaking the code on Queensland’s coal-seam gasfields has led to the construction of three LNG export projects at Gladstone. They are set to suck up excess domestic gas production and send it to Asia where, after shipping and freezing costs, LNG operators end up with two or three times the price for gas they would get from Australian buyers.Even if the LNG plants were not short of gas, which they are at least in the early years, potential expansion of the plants and expected continued Asian demand means local gas users will be forced to compete with Asian buyers. ­Prices in the pipeline-linked eastern states for 2015 and beyond are therefore double or ­triple previous prices. The winners are the gas, and to some extent, the construction and services industries, along with the Queensland and federal governments, which will collect extra taxes and royalties. The big losers are the manufacturers that rely on reasonably priced gas.“While exporting Australia’s previously untapped unconventional coal-seam gas reserves is expected to provide a boost to Australia’s GDP, realising these benefits will also entail painful consequences,” Deloitte said in a report last month commissioned by the manufacturing industry. “Both costs and benefits are very unevenly spread across ­sectors and regions.”With the exception of the gas, services and the construction sector, gas price rises and other drivers led to a fall in industry output for all other sectors in the economy, the report says. In one estimate, it says the rising gas prices add about $115 billion-$120bn of net present value to the winners between now and 2021 but take away up to $180bn from the losers.

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