THE Greens have accused Australia's gas industry of 'cooking the books' to hide a huge carbon emissions problem.
WA Greens Senator Scott Ludlam says a new analysis of publicly available industry figures, reveals "a massive expansion in Australian greenhouse gas emissions within six years if all proposed new LNG projects go ahead."
The claims have opened up a war of words with the gas industry. It has hit back, accusing the Greens of "in essence declaring their support for coal to continue to dominate electricity generation".
According to Senator Ludlam "the companies behind these gas projects claim that gas is a clean energy, but they don't talk about the massive emissions that are caused when gas from high-CO2 gas fields is processed and that CO2 is stripped out and vented to the atmosphere".
The Greens claim one joint venture alone, James Price Point hub, near Broome, will emit 32 million tonnes a year of greenhouse gases - equal to five per cent of Australia's current greenhouse gas emissions, or all of New Zealand's total annual greenhouse gas emissions.
"I'm a bit worried that the gas industry's been cooking the books," Senator Ludlam said in an interview with Fairfax Media.
"If the gas industry has been allowed to just simply dump the surplus CO2 in the air at the point of production off the North West of WA, then that blows their annual figures out of the water, and that's a big concern."
The Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA) Chief Executive, Belinda Robinson, says the claims are 'perplexing'.
"Gas-fired power stations emit up to 70 per cent less greenhouse gas emissions than existing coal-burning plants and when Australian LNG is used in place of coal to generate electricity in customer countries, up to nine tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions are avoided for every tonne of emissions produced in the liquefaction and export process."
The industry claims the burgeoning economies of China and India, heavily reliant on coal for energy, offer huge potential for Australian gas to reduce global carbon emissions.
"Imagine the difference to global greenhouse gas emissions if more of this electricity was sourced from Australian LNG," Ms Robinson says.