Plea to Australia: lift energy supply to ease fuel crisis

Japan, India and Germany have warned that the global energy crisis is worsening and have called on Australia to step up with replacement supplies as fears grow that big-consuming nations face a harsher crunch ending their dependency on Russian fossil fuels.

Japan’s economy minister, Koichi Hagiuda, said the world was in the middle of an energy ­crisis and must urgently find new sources of supply as experts said battery, solar and wind supply chains were vulnerable to geo­political shocks.

Tokyo officials have already asked Australia to increase its ­liquefied natural gas production after Russia seized control of one of its major sources of LNG, and Mr Hagiuda stressed the need to find new supplies and pivot to renewables. Japan is Australia’s second biggest market for LNG behind China.

“Due to the urgent situation in Ukraine, the world’s energy market is in the middle of a crisis,” Mr Hagiuda, Japan’s Economy, Trade and Industry Minister, told the Sydney Energy Forum a day after attending the funeral of former prime minister Shinzo Abe.

“A response to the crisis is ­urgently needed. We must make our best effort for a clean energy transition to realise carbon neutrality and the stability of the ­energy market needs to be a prerequisite.”

Moscow shocked Japan a fortnight ago when it grabbed control of the Sakhalin-2 oil and gas project off Russia’s east coast with two major Japanese trading houses – Mitsui and Mitsubishi – owning stakes in the facility.

Russia is a major producer of coal, gas and oil and sanctions have forced buyers to scramble to find alternative supplies.

“I feel it is critical we diversify the energy source and secure ­stable supply while realising that is challenging currently,” Mr Hagiuda said.

India, a major buyer of Australian coal and LNG, said it was also concerned by the unfolding global crisis and accused profiteering fossil fuel companies of exacerbating the situation in recent years, underscoring the need for the move to clean energy.

“I think we need to diagnose the energy crisis which has gripped the world and which we are actually in the middle of because many countries still face difficulties,” said India’s Minister of Power and Renewable Energy, Raj Kumar Singh. “The trend towards reaping profits as fast as possible has been going on for some time. This has pushed up the prices of fossil fuels to such an extent that it’s become very difficult.

“The days of ending that dominance are getting closer because of this; I believe it will actually hasten the energy transition.”

Germany said coal and oil from Russia, which previously accounted for 40 per cent of its supplies, would be cut by August and the end of 2022 respectively, while LNG import terminals were being built in months rather than years to wean the country off gas supplies from Moscow.

“The Russian aggression against Ukraine has shown very painfully to us what is an over-concentration of procurement of energy from one source,” German state secretary Jorg Kukies told the forum. “The one source that we’ve believed for many decades to be a reliable and trustworthy source has now shown its blatant violation of the international rule of law, the respect for borders and sovereignty of nations.”

Germany is importing LNG from the US and Qatar to help fill the gap but still faces a shortfall in gas supplies.

Energy ministers from Australia, Japan, India and the US held a Quad meeting on Wednesday on the sidelines of the summit, organised by the Australian government to boost co-operation between the four countries.

Energy Minister Chris Bowen said there was a focus in the meeting on supply chains for energy and critical minerals and working co-operatively on energy challenges facing the region.

“The Quad energy ministers meeting included a shared commitment to accelerate the development and deployment of the zero-emissions technologies necessary to drive a clean energy transition, recognising not only that a clean energy future will advance prosperity across the Indo-Pacific and beyond, but will also mitigate against energy supply disruptions,” Mr Bowen said.

Resources Minister Madeleine King also told the forum on Wednesday night that meeting net-zero emissions targets would in part hinge on access to critical minerals including lithium, nickel, cobalt, graphite and rare earth elements.

“Policies by the new Australian government will see more of our critical minerals not only exported, but processed in Australia to make precursor products and, eventually, things like batteries and solar panels,” Ms King was expected to tell the conference.


Extracted from The Australian

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