The production of primary fuels in Australia grew significantly between 1990-91 and 1998-99, with an overall increase of about 34% (table 15.6). Significant increases in production occurred in uranium, black coal and, to a lesser extent, natural gas. Black coal continues to dominate the pattern of energy production (as it has done for at least the last 20 years), accounting for nearly half of total energy production in 1998-99. Uranium accounted for 24% of total production, followed by natural gas at 11%, and then crude oil at 8%.
Over two-thirds of energy production in Australia is exported (mainly black coal and uranium - see International accounts and trade), and these two products are expected to continue to dominate the pattern of both energy production and trade. Domestically, most coal production is used to generate electricity. Other uses include coke-making for the iron and steel industry, and as a source of heat in the manufacture of cement.
Australia's total production of uranium reached a record high in 1999, 22% higher than for 1998. This was due to a significant increase in uranium production from the Ranger and Olympic Dam mines (AGSO 2000a).
Production depletes crude oil resources at about 3.7% a year, condensate at 1.7% a year and natural gas at 0.9% a year. In the longer term, increases in the real price of oil and advances in technology are likely to lead to exploration which could discover large amounts of petroleum not presently classified as resources (AGSO 2000b).
Graph 15.7 shows the production of non-renewable and renewable energy sources between 1973 and 1998. Over this period, the production of non-renewable fuels has shown an upward trend. In contrast, production of renewable energy sources (wood, bagasse, hydro-electricity and solar) has remained relatively stable, therefore reducing their share of total production over the period.
Although production of renewable fuels increased by 18% between 1990-91 and 1998-99, their share of total energy production fell from 2.6% to 2.3% over this period. The production of renewable fuels between 1973 and 1998 is shown by type of fuel in graph 15.8. (It should be noted that there is a limit to the possible increase in bagasse's share of renewable energy, which is related to the production of sugar cane.)
15.6 PRODUCTION OF PRIMARY FUELS
Change since 1990-91
|Crude oil and LNG|
|Source: ABARE, electronic datasets.|