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Mining magnate censured for criticising fossil fuels

Andrew Forrest
Andrew Forrest

An iron ore mogul was widely rebuked after suggesting everyone who works for the resources industry is behind the times.

Andrew Forrest unleashed an angry tirade against industry peers at the 2021 Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) Oil and Gas Conference.

The Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) chairman shocked onlookers by accusing them of having the worst impact on climate change, a theory which holds burning fossil fuels creates carbon dioxide that can influence long-term weather patterns.

‘Fossil’ minded

“Oil and gas players like Santos and the Wheatstone developers (Chevron and Woodside) have had a disgraceful experience, and a disgraceful track record with their carbon emissions,” he said according to Fairfax Media.

“Santos is about to kick off one of the most polluting projects in the world [and] it needs to be called for what it is–it is an atrocious project. Only a fossil would back long-term fossil fuel in today’s world.”

Forrest then claimed Santos’ US$3.6 billion (A$4.7B) Barossa Gas Project and Woodside’s $16B Scarborough and Pluto LNG Expansion would still be the “most polluting projects in the world,” if they invested in hydrogen that was not produced with renewable energy.

Emissions disputed

Woodside quickly fired back, saying gas from the Scarborough Project has “almost no carbon dioxide” because it is processed through a “highly efficient” facility at the Pluto LNG Plant.

“The resulting energy would produce less than half the carbon dioxide emissions per megawatt-hour of energy produced from coal, making it one of the lowest carbon sources of LNG globally that can be delivered to our north Asian customers,” acting CEO Meg O’Neill said in a public statement.

O’Neill then accused Forrest of wrongly implying the world has completely transitioned from LNG to renewable energy.

“Carbon-neutral energies are not yet ready to meet the world’s energy needs,” she said. “This is particularly apparent in Woodside’s target markets in Asia … [where] hundreds of millions of people in Asia still rely on more carbon-intensive fuels, or lack access to modern essentials like refrigeration and heating.”

Anti-competitive hypocrisy

Event organisers from APPEA accused Forrest of hypocrisy because FMG still plans to construct a new Gas Import Terminal at Port Kembla, 103km south of Sydney.

“It sounds as though he would prefer to have no competition from other projects,” APPEA CEO Andrew McConville said according to Fairfax Media.

“Mr Forrest’s comments make no sense given the majority of experts agree that natural gas is a pathway to a large-scale hydrogen industry.”

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Australian Industrial Energy, which is associated with Forrest’s Tattarang Group, further contradicted the magnate by publishing on the Port Kembla Project website a “secure, affordable supply of natural gas as a key component of Australia’s post COVID-19 economic recovery”.

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