Ben Wyatt jumps from government to big gas and big iron

• Canberra admits gas tax fails • Peter Coleman gone •

Good afternoon,

  • Well, mid-week I thought ex-WA Treasurer Ben Wyatt joining the Woodside board showed that the big resources players were too close to Government. However, the boy from Vic Park really jumped the shark this morning by getting a seat at Rio Tinto's table as well.
    Here is my take on how very well Woodside did during the first term of the Mark McGowan Government. Ten tall tales.
    I expect a similar list could be compiled for the iron ore giants.
    READ the full story: Ten tales of Woodside’s merry men: Mark, Bill and Ben
  • Geothermal is the forgotten clean energy. Perhaps not for much longer in WA, with the interest in exploration acreage so high the regulator has hit pause to reconsider how best to manage the industry.
    READ the full story: WA geothermal rush causes regulator rethink on titles
  • Terms like green steel are bandied about a lot now. Here is a nice piece from The Conversation giving some interesting detail.
    READ the full story: Australia's green steel dream explained

The Conservation Council of WA has launched a blitz against Woodside’s Scarborough project, armed with a report by The Australia Institute highlighting its direct and indirect carbon emissions and risks to the ancient Murujuga rock art on the Burrup Peninsula.

And Boiling Cold was not the only one concerned about how close Woodside is to Government.

Crikey said Woodside was “effectively now an arm of government.”

It coted the $8 million Woodside got to advise on cleaning up after the Northern Endeavor, using Australia’s foreign spies to spy on East Timor to help Woodside in its negotiations, and the large number of former politicians and senior bureaucrats on its payroll.

Newly elected Greens member of WA’s upper house Brad Pettitt said Wyatt’s appointment showed the need for a compulsory break between being a minister and employment in industry.

Funnily, Ben Wyatt himself seemed to like Boiling Cold’s take on his ascension to corporate heights by liking the story’s tweet last night.

I suspect he did not read it. Ben, please do better with those hefty Woodside and Rio Tinto briefing packs now landing in your inbox.

Australia's most useless tax

The Canberra bureaucracy has finally coughed up to how dysfunctional the Petroleum Resources Rent Tax is.

Australian Tax Office commissioner Jeremy Hirschhorn told a Senate estimates hearing that much of the $280 billion in accumulated PRRT credits were “trapped” in projects that would never pay for the gas and oil they extract.

Hirschhorn was asked what Shell’s $US40 billion of unrecognised PRRT losses, first revealed by Boiling Cold and later carried by The Guardian, mean for tax receipts.

“They are effectively saying they cannot recognise this as an asset because they do not think it will be used in the future,” Hirschhorn said.

“It is effectively Shell saying that it has $40 billion … in, effectively, that trapped bucket.”

Boiling Cold put it more simply and bluntly in a headline two months ago: “Shell predicts free gas forever.”

Pushing new information into the public realm that big companies would prefer to be forgotten can, bit by bit, make a difference. Please consider chipping in a small amount to help Boiling Cold keep on digging.

Two PR hiccups for Woodside this week.

The Perth Fringe Festival will no longer feature Woodside Pleasure Garden after years of pressure from its performers. It was an odd name if you think about it.

Monash University will have a “Woodside Building for Technology and Design” due to a $16 million gift towards the $170 million building. The building will be a “fully electric building with no reliance on natural gas or any fossil fuels, this allows Monash University to achieve their net-zero target as soon as possible.” Oops.

And why is Perth-based Woodside shelling out cash in Melbourne? Possible because ex-employee as of today Peter Coleman studied engineering there. Boiling Cold is unaware of the business case for Woodside spending millions to shore up community support in Victoria.

The oil and gas sector has tripled the share of its capital expenditure devoted to renewable energy and carbon capture over the past six years. It is now a whopping 4.5 per cent, according to the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Investment Report. The leopards are yet to change their spots.

Yara has signed up to the Smart Energy Council’s Zero Carbon Certification Scheme for the green ammonia it wants to produce in the Pilbara.

There is a real need for some independent verification of the proliferation of green claims.

Mid last year corporate regulator ASIC sent letters to Perth’s Strike Energy, Carnarvon Petroleum, Pancontinental Oil & Gas and Whitebark Energy as well as Leigh Creek Energy asking about their disclosure of climate risk, according to the AFR.

ASIC told the companies they were “inconsistent and out of step” with their peers. Strike and Carnarvon told the AFR they now planned to report in accordance with the widely recognised standards of the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures.

Emission Reduction Minister Angus Taylor said Chevron’s CO2 injection at Gorgon made a “significant contribution” to the recent drop in Australia’s emissions. However, the claim was pulled up in Renew Economy (with help from some numbers from Boiling Cold) that showed the dominant reason was a COVID-induced drop in coal mining.

WA’s independent power producers want to be able to supply any customer that consumes more than 20 megawatt-hours a year. Currently, State-owned Synergy has a monopoly for all customers smaller than 50 MWhr a year.

Enjoy your weekend.