Oil and gas executives should throw away their American management books and concentrate on working more closely with governments to deliver major projects, West Australian premier Colin Barnett says.
Major companies needed to “get alignment” with state and federal governments, which ultimately own the resources on behalf of the people, Mr Barnett told an energy industry conference.
“Governments … have through their ownership a direct commercial interest and you should not ignore the silent partner in your project,” he told the APPEA conference in Perth on Monday.
“You spend a lot of time as an industry getting your social licence.
“Stop reading those American management books, think a bit broader, think in the context of where you are in the world.”
It was important the industry continued to support local communities, but the industry’s ultimate “social licence” was to align with national and state governments, he said.
“That’s the licence that counts, that’s the one you must secure to develop Australia’s natural resources,” Mr Barnett said.
His comments come after Perth-based oil and gas company Woodside Petroleum in 2013 scrapped plans for an onshore processing plant for its Browse project.
It is instead pursuing a floating liquified natural gas (FLNG) option.
The decision raised the ire of Mr Barnett who lamented the loss of local jobs.
He says the WA government will only renew its retention lease for around 15 per cent of the project if Woodside agrees to build a supply base in a preferred location, and secure domestic gas supply.
Woodside chairman Michael Chaney told the APPEA conference Perth was poised to become the global centre of FLNG technology, and governments had an equally important role to play in ensuring Australia remains a reliable supplier of LNG.
“Australia would not be in the position it is today, poised to become the largest LNG exporter in the world, were it not for the West Australian and Australian governments,” Mr Chaney said.
Mr Chaney noted there had been a “genuinely symbiotic relationship” between the government and industry several decades ago, when Richard Court was WA premier and Woodside was chaired by its founder Geoff Donaldson.