“We need to make approvals processes more timely,” he told South-East Asia Australia Offshore Conference delegates.
“Buyers of Australian LNG do have other options. They can buy their gas from other countries or they can opt for nuclear energy.”
While the minister did not name any jurisdiction in his speech this morning, it was clear he was referring to Western Australia.
Macfarlane told Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum energy ministers, who met in Darwin earlier this week, that Australia’s plans to quadruple LNG production by the end of the next decade were being threatened by a very slow process in getting environmental approvals in WA.
His comments echo those made at last month's APPEA conference, but on that occasion his attention was on industry.
He said Australia was in an excellent position to meet the projected strong future demand for LNG in Asia and North America, but he feared LNG operators were not moving quickly enough on their projects.
"If we don't go hard and if we don't go now, future customers could leapfrog LNG and go straight to nuclear," he said.
"We want to see companies proceeding as quickly as possible. It's important to get in before someone else gets in front of you."
In 2005-06 Australia exported 12.4 million tonnes of LNG worth $4.4 billion, during which time it overtook Malaysia to become the second largest exporter to Japan.
This figure would increase four-fold to more than 60 million tonnes per annum within the next decade if proposed projects Pluto, Gorgon, Browse, Ichthys, Pilbara and Darwin phase two, went ahead, according to Macfarlane.