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Australia has large identified resources of fossil fuels and uranium. It is ranked in the top six countries in the world for economic demonstrated resources (EDR) of black and brown coal, and has the world's largest EDR of uranium. Australia also has significant reserves of natural gas and crude oil.
15.2 COAL RESOURCES - 2000
Map 15.3 shows the extent of access to gas resources in Australia. Known natural gas reserves in Australia are less extensive than coal reserves, although it is expected that natural gas will increase its share of the domestic energy market in the short- to medium-term. The total length of Australia's transmission pipeline system has increased from 7,670 km a decade ago to over 15,600 km in 2001 (ANZMEC 2001). Since 1960, remaining gas reserves have increased more than eight times, mainly due to discoveries of major gas resources on the North West Shelf.
15.3 GAS RESOURCES - 2000
Source: The Australian Gas Association.
EDRs of non-renewable energy assets were estimated at 1.9 million PJ in 2001 (table 15.4). Black coal accounted for 59%, followed by brown coal (19%) and uranium (16%). Australia has the world's largest resources of uranium in the low cost (EDR) category, with 29% of the world's total EDR (recoverable at <US$80/kg U). Other countries with significant EDR of uranium include: Kazakhstan (19%), Canada (14%), South Africa (10%), Brazil (7%), Namibia (6%), the Russian Federation (6%) and the United States of America (5%).
Changes in EDRs can be due to various factors, one of which is production activity. Others include discoveries and reclassification of resources due to reassessments (such as with black and brown coal in 1999, when some resources previously considered economic were reclassified as subeconomic).
Table 15.5 shows the net present value (NPV) of demonstrated energy assets within Australia. The NPV is the expected value of the resource based on current market value, with some modifications based on depletion and economic forces. At mid 2001 total subsoil assets had an NPV of just under $173b, of which 70% was attributed to the NPV of energy assets (over $121b). The two most significant energy assets were black coal and natural gas which accounted for 33% and 28%, respectively. The increase in the value of energy resources between mid 1991 and mid 2001 was primarily due to increases in the NPV of black coal and natural gas over this period.