PM to meet gas chiefs to discuss energy crisis

Malcolm Turnbull and gas industry chiefs will meet on Wednesday for what’s been described as a “frank conversation” about the energy crisis.

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The prime minister said ahead of the Canberra talks all Australians needed to be assured of reliable and affordable energy.

The meeting is aimed at ensuring there is enough gas to meet peaks in demand, more supply comes into the market and downward pressure is put on prices, as quickly as possible.

“The gas industry is a key part of Australia’s prosperity,” Mr Turnbull said.

“Households rely on gas supplies to provide an affordable means to heat their homes. Thousands of Australian jobs rely on access to affordable and reliable gas supplies.”

But he said jobs were under threat because of state and territory bans on gas development.

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Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg, who will also attend the meeting, told reporters two-third of Australia’s gas was being exported, including in some cases gas meant for the domestic market.

“We will be having a very frank conversation with the energy companies,” he said.

Labor energy spokesman Mark Butler said it was a “genuine crisis” requiring national leadership.

“We want to see serious options put on the table to address both immediate and longer term issues, to ensure affordable gas supply to our economy,” he said.

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The energy market regulator predicts a shortage of gas could lead to widespread power shortages as soon as next year.

The peak body for the industry blames state governments for development moratoriums and high regulatory costs.

Companies represented at the talks will include Santos, Shell Australia, ExxonMobil, Origin, Total, Asia Pacific LNG, Beach Energy, GLNG Operations and Senex, as well as the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association.

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