Matt Chambers; 19/9/09
By the middle of next decade, if all goes to plan, more Asians than before will be firing up their woks using gas formed from the tiny plants and animals that lived in the oceans off Australia’s northwest more than 100 million years ago. Australia is in the middle of a $100 billion spending binge to build its liquefied natural gas industry into one that rivals coal as our biggest export earner. After that huge cash layout, two or three shiploads a day of chilled natural gas will make a one-week trek – in some of the most expensive commercial ships (costing about $300 million each) ever built – to feed the growing power and gas needs of Asia. It does not sound a lot, and is less than half the number of coal ships that leave the east coast daily, but each tanker will carry enough LNG to power a city of 34,000 for a year.