Australians and their gas

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan.

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan.

Federal Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Matt Cananvan, explores Australia’s rich gas history, and why the association must continue.

In the 1950s, the Australian Government decided that we had to reduce our reliance on imported oil because the cost was making it difficult to keep the Australian dollar fixed to the pound. So the Menzies government passed the Petroleum Search Subsidy Act 1957 and encouraged the major resource companies to look for oil in Australia.

In 1960, Sir Ian McLennan, General Manager of BHP at the time, had lunch with a renowned US geologist, Lewis Weeks. McLennan asked Weeks where in Australia should BHP search for oil. Without hesitation, Weeks responded: the Bass Strait.

BHP secured the leases over the Bass Strait, partnered with Esso, took the government subsidies, and developed the greatest oil and gas field in Australia at the time.

The Bass Strait has been a boon to the Australian economy ever since. It provided cheaper oil to Australia through the oil crises of the 1970s. Gas was originally a by-product, so it was sold cheap and that helped spur a heavy manufacturing industry in Victoria and South Australia. More recently, it has become Australia’s most important domestic gas source.

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