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Energy minister vows to spruik gas sector

The nation’s energy minister has vowed to the gas sector that he will continue telling Australians the importance of the industry.

Angus Taylor says it’s important to tell the industry’s story.

“That narrative, that story needs to be understood in every classroom, every university lecture of any relevance to these topics, and in the household around the kitchen table,” he told an industry event on Wednesday.

“We want people to understand that when they’re having their dinner they’re eating food that has been produced from gas.

“Just such an important story to tell. I’ll continue to do it.”

The online Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association event comes after last week’s budget locked in $52.9 million to support the government’s gas expansion plan.

The plan has sparked backlash from environmental groups who want the government to back clean energy in its economic recovery from coronavirus.

The gas sector is acutely aware of the public’s increasing focus on reducing emissions, and says gas is the key source to replace coal and support renewables.

It’s also eyeing hydrogen.

“I just think of hydrogen as part of gas, right. It’s all gas at the end of the day,” Santos boss Kevin Gallagher said.

“In the real world gas and renewables must co-exist to deliver the energy security and reliability that our society demands.”

A tug-of-war is developing with the emerging fuel source.

Environmental groups are pushing for renewable hydrogen while the gas sector hopes to produce it with natural gas.

Nevenka Codevelle, from gas infrastructure group APA, says the sector needs to be more strategic in spruiking its benefits.

“It just felt like the tide turned against gas almost overnight,” she said.

“We were seen in a positive light, as a pathway to accelerate as a replacement of coal, and suddenly we were put in the fossil fuel sin bin.”

The Smart Energy Council recently held an online summit featuring speakers including former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama and UK Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng.

Mr Taylor declined to take part, but Smart Energy Council chief John Grimes says the group will keep inviting him.

“It’s disappointing that the Australian energy minister declined the invitation to speak at the online Global Smart Energy Summit when we had leaders and energy ministers from other countries speaking,” he told AAP.

“We hope that one day he will accept our invitation.”

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