The APGA, with a new CEO at the helm, is currently doing the right thing, by reviewing its members services, by asking the members for candid feedback. I was fortunate to be invited to the member’s review session held in Brisbane, over a month ago now, with about 25 others in attendance. There have also been sessions in Perth and Melbourne. The next step is the APGA will send a questionnaire to all members to get wider feedback.
It’s a good initiative. What will happen to all the feedback? It’s a lot of work to bring all that input into useable outputs.
For my part, here are the themes and ideas that I contributed, or came away with:
Are we, as an association and an industry, advocating for pipelines, or for the contents of a pipeline? Are we about energy, or about a conduit? We’ve been disrupted (that’s getting old), and to get ahead of that disruption, I’m trying to figure out if I am more interested in the energy that pipelines deliver (gas, oil) and all that entails with the energy question, or, being about the conduit for all sorts of other fluids and materials, not the least important being simple water – and there are enormous ongoing opportunities there.
Assuming we’re about gas itself for the moment, I’d like more information on the demand-side of the energy equation. Who is using the gas/oil/ethane etc that we transport, and why? And more importantly, why will they be using it 5 or 10 years from now? There are options now, and I fear people are opting out of gas. There’s no clear impetus to use gas. Why should anyone choose gas? In fact, we are almost promoting not using gas (CH4) anymore, but actually replacing it with hydrogen and biofuels. Not bad ideas, to be sure. But that’s a bit confusing – I thought we were about “gas”. What is “gas” then, and can the word be saved or rebranded maybe?
There’s enormous opportunity to use gas for electricity, but it doesn’t seem to be getting the momentum that I guess I assumed it would. And then we have a proposed LNG import terminal, now that’s another strange development. Why in the world are we looking at importing gas into this country?
Problems seem to go away when gas (or whatever) is needed. If there is demand, it seems like a lot of policy and legislation don’t make much difference, things just happen when there is demand. Take renewables and new energy sources – society is demanding ‘something else’, and the entrepreneurs are responding – and its fascinating. Necessity is the mother of invention – and the mother of progress too.
So that’s got a bit off-topic. I didn’t even mention the discussions around the services that APGA actually provides (mostly because the conclusion at the Brisbane session seemed to be it’s pretty much right as it is). But it’s also about defining who we are, and what we do. As an industry, as an association. The Australian Pipelines and Gas Association. I guess it’s in the title, isn’t it. We do both: the conduit, and the energy. And in the end, we need to be flexible enough to do whatever is needed.