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U.S. has responsibility to act as 'emerging energy superpower,' Upton says
by Daniel J. Graeber
Washington (UPI) May 16, 2013


Australian company overcomes revolt against coal seam gas
Adelaide, Australia (UPI) May 16, 2013 - Nearly all voting shareholders expressed support for a controversial coal seam gas project in New South Wales, Australian energy company Santos said Friday.

Santos said 99.22 percent of its shareholders voted against a resolution offered by 161 stakeholders to withdraw from the Narrabri gas project during an annual general meeting.

"Shareholders have overwhelmingly recognized the importance of the Narrabri gas project to the company, the local community and the state of New South Wales," Santos Chief Executive Officer David Knox said in a statement Friday.

Dissenting shareholders were supported by The Wilderness Society. Its director, Lyndon Schneiders, wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald in March that coal seam gas made Santos "an environmental vandal."

Coal seams gas is an unconventional source of natural gas incorporated into coal deposits. The New South Wales government in 2012 introduced measures to manage conflicts between the agricultural community and coal seam operations.

Santos says without the Narrabri project, the state would be faced with higher natural gas prices. The proposed project could supply the state with 50 percent of its gas needs.

The United States has an obligation as an "energy superpower" to respond to Russian pressure on the Ukrainian gas sector, U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., said.

Upton, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said threats from Moscow to shut off the supply of natural gas through Ukraine because of lingering debt were shameful.

"Threatening to turn off the spigot of natural gas to Ukraine is nothing but extortion playing out on the global stage," he said in a statement Thursday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Ukraine will have to pay in advance for its natural gas supplies because of accumulating gas debt. He added Thursday, however, that he was open to discussing ways to normalize the situation with his European counterparts.

European consumers get about a quarter of their gas needs met by Russia, though most of that supply runs through the Soviet-era transit network in Ukraine.

Upton said, with U.S. natural gas production growing, the government has a responsibility to address the issue.

"As the world's emerging energy superpower, America has a newfound responsibility to help our allies," he said.

He helped introduce legislation that would facilitate U.S. natural gas exports, though it's the private sector that determines export destinations.

The United States has no free-trade agreements with European countries.

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