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Mining magnate Rinehart to expand Qld gas

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The Queensland Resources Council has welcomed a plan by gas company Senex to invest $1 billion in new fields.

Mining magnate Gina Rinehart is partnering with South Korean steel giant POSCO, the co-owner of Senex after a buyout this year, to expand gas in the Surat Basin.

The expansion “demonstrates the best path forward to shoring up Australia’s energy security”, the industry body’s chief executive Ian Macfarlane said on Thursday.

The project could deliver more gas to customers on Australia’s east coast. But the fields are also keenly eyed by North Asia trading partners, amid debate about high prices facing Australians as more gas gets shipped offshore.

Mr Macfarlane said Senex would be able to deliver a total of 60 petajoules of gas each year to support demand from the east coast market, when the expansion of the Atlas and Roma North projects was complete.

Gas infrastructure and wells will be built in western Queensland over the next two years, delivering an estimated $200 million boost to regional businesses and local communities.

The investment is also forecast to create more than 200 construction jobs and 50 permanent roles.

“The most effective way to ensure gas consumers have access to affordable and reliable energy to power industry is to increase investments in gas supply and new projects,” Mr Macfarlane said.

The former federal Coalition industry minister said gas would be increasingly important for Australia, and trading partners, as economies worked towards net zero greenhouse gas emissions.

Critics reject gas as a “transition fuel” and argue new gas fields will make climate change worse.

But the federal Labor government and opposition both back the sector as a key part of Australia’s energy future.

In a speech to business leaders in Queensland on Thursday, federal Resources Minister Madeleine King will call for more fields to be unlocked, the Courier Mail reported.

Mr Macfarlane said it was more important than ever that investors had the confidence to make significant investments in resources and energy projects.

“A stable regulatory and royalty regime is essential to providing companies with the confidence to invest significant capital towards new projects,” he said.

-AAP

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