Kate Mackenzie Australia vs Qatar on LNG and… CO2 emissions

Could Australia have more in common with Qatar than just being a huge natural gas exporter?

With Chevron approving its investment in the massive Gorgon natural gas project in Western Australia, the country, with its estimated 40,000bn cubic feet of gas, looks set to become a big player in LNG. ConocoPhilip’s chief executive last week was quoted saying it could be the world’s biggest LNG exporter in 20 years.

So how does Qatar, currently the world’s biggest LNG exporter, feel about that? Rather sanguine, reports the FT:

Abdullah bin Hamad Al Attiyah, Qatar’s energy minister and the head of its LNG operations, this month acknowledged the leap Australia’s gas industry was about to make as well as its regional superiority.

He told the Financial Times: “We cannot control the whole world. Why not welcome them to the club. The world will need Australia and it will need Qatar.”

However there might be another comparison between the two that won’t be particularly welcomed by either: who is the biggest (or one of the biggest) per capita greenhouse gas emitters.

Qatar is on some measures the world’s biggest per-capita emitter of carbon dioxide – or its biggest significant one, at any rate. The EIA’s assessment of emissions in 2006 puts Qatar at number three behind the US Virgin Islands and Gibraltar, while the UN data on this list on Wikipedia (apparently in need of an update) puts Qatar at number one.

Both these lists, however, are limited: the EIA’s only counts CO2 from the consumption and flaring of fossil fuels, and as for the Wikipedia list, mostly taken from UN data here, it’s not clear whether that relates solely to energy consumption, production or other factors.

When agricultural practices are taken into account, whether just in terms of carbon dioxide, or including  other greenhouse gases such as methane, Australia fares pretty poorly. It comes fifth for total greenhouse gas emissions according to this list. Meanwhile if you strip out flaring, as does a recent report by risk assessment firm Maplethorpe, Australia apparently now comes at number one for carbon dioxide emissions, based on fuel consumption alone.  The US, however, is number two.

Related links:

Chevron approves $37bn Gorgon project (FT, 14/09/09)
Australians ‘the world’s worst polluters’ (ABC News, 11/09/09)