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Australia backs long-term gas exploration despite 2050 climate goals

Australia backs long-term gas exploration despite 2050 climate goals
The Woodside-operated North West Shelf LNG plant is seen at sunset in Burrup at the Pilbara region in Western Australia April 18, 2011. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz

SYDNEY, May 9 (Reuters) - Australia's resources minister said on Thursday she backs the long-term exploration of potential natural gas projects, setting up a potential clash with opposition lawmakers and some in the incumbent Labor Party that oppose its use.

Australia, one of the world’s largest producers of liquefied natural gas (LNG), is committed to reducing its emissions to net zero by 2050.

But Resources Minister Madeline King said in a column in the Australian Financial Review on Thursday, ahead of the launch of the government’s Future Gas Strategy, that “gas is needed out to 2050 and beyond.”

“The energy transformation will take time – it will take investment in renewables, new industry processes, new technologies,” she said.

Australia supplies around a fifth of global LNG supply shipped last year, with the largest projects run by Chevron and Woodside Energy Group in Western Australia.

Woodside is developing the Scarborough LNG project in Western Australia and the Beetaloo Basin in the Northern Territory, both of which have faced strong opposition from environmental campaigners.

“The strategy also makes it clear that we can’t rely on past investments to get us through the next decades, as existing fields deplete,” King said.

“That will mean a continued commitment to exploration, and an openness to the kinds of foreign investment that have helped build the industry into the powerhouse it is today.”

The Labor Party led by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who faces reelection in a federal poll due next year, is reliant on the Greens and independent lawmakers to pass legislation in the Senate, the upper house of parliament, where Labor lacks a majority.

(Reporting by Alasdair Pal in Sydney; Editing by Richard Chang)

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