AUSTRALIA

APPEA welcomes $1.6b scheme to boost Australia's energy independence

PRIME Minister John Howard has outlined an eight-year, $A1.6 billion multi-pronged program to help reduce Australia’s reliance on oil imports, including the injection of a further $76 million towards offshore frontier exploration.

APPEA welcomes $1.6b scheme to boost Australia's energy independence

The funds will be used to extend Geoscience Australia’s current seismic acquisition program that would focus on new frontier offshore areas to be chosen in consultation with industry.

Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) president Belinda Robinson welcomed the move.

“The decision provides both Geoscience Australia and industry with certainty in moving forward to potentially identify major new oil provinces in Australia,” Robinson said.

“APPEA looks forward to continuing to work closely with [Industry, Tourism and Resources] Minister [Ian] Macfarlane with a view to addressing other impediments that may be acting to drive exploration funds to other investment destinations around the world and to commercialise our gas resources.”

Robinson said the current decline in the nation’s domestic oil production could partly be addressed through petroleum exploration in Australia’s frontier and under-explored areas.

She added that APPEA also supported the Government’s decision to commit $59 million to identify potential onshore energy sources, including petroleum and geothermal energy.

“Onshore provinces provide a number of opportunities that can now be better assessed through the work of the nation’s geological agencies. This will assist companies with an onshore exploration focus,” she said.

The Australian Government will also spend an additional $123.5 million to extend and expand its renewable remote power generation.

Macfarlane has also been asked to put forward a proposal to cabinet to fund a program to make Australia a leader in gas-to-liquids and coal-to-liquids research.

More than $677.1 million will be spent over the next eight years pushing the use of liquefied petroleum gas in the transport industry, Howard said.

Under the scheme, a $2000 grant will be offered towards the cost of converting privately owned vehicles to LPG. For Western Australian motorists, this incentive comes in addition to a $1000 subsidy announced by the State Government last week.

The Australian Government will also contribute $1000 towards the purchase cost of new factory-fitted LPG powered vehicles.

Howard said LPG would, on the fuel bill for a six-cylinder vehicle travelling 15,000km a year, save about $27 a week or $1400 a year in fuel costs.

“The estimated cost of the LPG incentives I am announcing today is $677.1 million over the eight-year life of the program,” he said.

“Taking into account revenue forgone, the total cost is more than $1.3 billion over eight years.”

In a bid to expand ethanol-blended fuel, the government will offer service stations up to $20,000 to convert their operations to include E10.

But Howard ruled out mandating the use of ethanol in Australian petrol.

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