WA’s offshore gasfields pay almost no royalties and stoke carbon emissions, report finds
Australia Institute report finds state received only $430m of its revenue from industry that generated $27bn in exports last yearRead more: Guardian news »
Will blockchain fulfil its democratic promise or will it become a tool of big tech? | John NaughtonEngineers are focused on reducing its carbon footprint, ignoring the governance issues raised by the technology Ofc no! Will it? I've got news for you: it's already a scam by rich tech people and it's rapidly accelerating climate change. It needs to be banned. “No powerful people will ever use it” 😭
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caused an outage at a nearby gas plant .Illuminated rigs at the Minto cryptocurrency mining centre in Nadvoitsy, Russia.coats cemented the brand’s place in the world of fashion when it launched in 2013, and in the intervening years, Saks Potts has set the standard for 2022’s take on the penny lane: all rainbow-hued colours and floor-sweeping lengths.By.
The $430m that ended up in the state’s coffers was a mere 1% of budget revenue, or half as much as it collected from motor vehicle registrations. By contrast, the iron-ore industry tipped $7. Photograph: Andrey Rudakov/Getty Images Sat 15 Jan 2022 16.8bn into the 2019/20 budget, more than 18 times as much as gas. A quick browse on the app pulls up a wealth of penny lane coats; some vintage, some new, all fabulous. Read more “Oil and gas companies like Woodside and Chevron are being given this valuable and finite resource virtually for free, making huge profits from its sale, creating few jobs and returning almost nothing to everyday West Australians,” said Mark Ogge, principal adviser at the Australia Institute’s Climate & Energy Program, and author of the report. Journalists tended to regard it as some kind of incomprehensible money-laundering scam, while computer scientists, who were largely agnostic about bitcoin’s prospects, nevertheless thought that the distributed-ledger technology (the so-called blockchain ) that underpinned the currency was a Big Idea that could have far-reaching consequences. The North West Shelf gas operations provide the bulk of the liquefied natural gas royalties paid at $425m, with no tax or LNG royalties from Woodside’s Pluto, Chevron’s Wheatstone or Shell’s Prelude projects, the analysis found.
Chevron’s Gorgon contributed $7m in 2019-20 to the WA budget but was potentially generating revenue of more than four times that tally per day. Blockchain technology had the potential to change the way we buy and sell, interact with government and verify the authenticity of everything from property titles to organic vegetables. Throw on over your favourite party dresses, jeans-and-a-nice-top combinations and even your pyjamas for an easy way to elevate a look. Although “paltry”, if the North West Shelf payments were extended at the same rate to the rest of the LNG industry in WA, more than $1bn would be generated for the state and $500m for the commonwealth, the report found. At its peak in 2013/14, the Woodside-run operation provided about triple the current level, or about $1. Verily, cryptography would set us free.2bn, making up more than 4% of the budget revenue that year. The tax and royalty arrangements “see large amounts of gas effectively given away for free to multinational oil and gas companies”, the report said. These transactions can be any movement of money, goods or secure data – a purchase at a store, for example, the title to a piece of property, the assignment of an NHS number or a vaccination status, you name it.
“[T]he obvious question is how much money could be raised if WA’s gas was subject to an effective royalty regime.” With its reliance on expensive equipment rather than labour, the industry is also a relatively small employer in the state, accounting for less than 1% of the workforce, the report found. But a blockchain is a distributed (ie, decentralised) ledger where verification (and therefore trustworthiness) comes not from a central authority but from a consensus of many users of the blockchain that a particular transaction is valid. LNG also managed to extract $94m in subsidies from the state government in 2020/21. “This kind of legislative blank cheque from government to an industry that offers so few jobs and revenue in return is symptomatic of the disproportionate influence of the LNG industry,” it said. And oppressive, rent-seeking authorities such as Visa and Mastercard (or, for that matter, Stripe) are nowhere in the chain. LNG’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions is “immense” and growing as more projects line up for approval.
Current and proposed LNG projects - including Browse, Scarborough and the Pluto expansion – will alone emit 41. In that sense, the excitement surrounding it reminds me of the early days of the internet, when we really believed that our contemporaries had invented a technology that was democratising and liberating and beyond the reach of established power structures.6m tonnes of carbon dioxide-equivalent in production and processing. That tally – which excludes the contribution when the gas is burnt by customers – amounts to almost half WA’s total emissions each year. But we’re not using them to achieve their great potential. A spokesperson for the WA government did not dispute the revenue figures but said the contribution of the LNG industry – which reserves 15% of its output for WA customers – went beyond the extraction and processing of the fuel. “Given energy is an essential input into most economic activity, we should not consider the employment effects of energy projects by simply looking at their operational workforce,” the official said. What we underestimated, in our naivety, were the power of sovereign states, the ruthlessness and capacity of corporations and the passivity of consumers, a combination of which eventually led to corporate capture of the internet and the centralisation of digital power in the hands of a few giant corporations and national governments.
“Domestic gas has underpinned the Western – for domestic and industrial uses – for decades, and due to our strong domestic gas policy LNG projects continue to make a significant contribution to the state.” Gas provides as much as 60% of the state’s electricity, and the Western Australian Gas and Downstream Industry Opportunities Study in August 2021 estimated downstream gas processing projects may contribute between $3bn-$10bn to the state economy over 20 years. Will this happen to blockchain technology? Hopefully not, but the enthusiastic endorsement of it by outfits such as Goldman Sachs is not exactly reassuring. Chevron, too, defended its economic contribution. The US-based company has paid about $7bn in Australian state and federal taxes and royalties since 2009, a spokesperson said. At the moment, for example, the consensus-establishing processes for verifying blockchain transactions requires intensive computation, with a correspondingly heavy carbon footprint. “Forecasts show by the early to mid-2020s, we will pay $1bn to $2.
5bn a year in federal and state taxes and royalties,” she said. There may not be any central authority in a blockchain but, as Vili Lehdonvirta years ago, there are rules for what constitutes a consensus and, therefore, a question about who exactly sets those rules. “Our contribution in Australia goes far beyond tax,” with more than $60bn in local content generated by the Gorgon and Wheatstone projects with contracts reaching almost 1,000 in number for Australian businesses, and 19,000 construction jobs. Claire Wilkinson, director of the WA division of the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, said: “Western Australians know that natural gas creates local jobs and is essential to our community, no matter what this east coast outfit [the Australia Institute] suggests. Blockchain engineers also don’t seem to be much interested in the needs of the humans who might ultimately be users of the technology. “Critically, mining and minerals processing, a key generator of royalties for WA, is a big user of natural gas to power their activities,” Wilkinson said. “In the last 10 years alone, Western Australian natural gas has supported at least 57,000 full-time jobs and paid more than $53bn in taxes. “When people talk about blockchains,” he writes, “they talk about distributed trust, leaderless consensus and all the mechanics of how that works, but often gloss over the reality that clients ultimately can’t participate in those mechanics.
” Guardian Australia also approached the Morrison government, Woodside and Shell for comment. Topics . Blockchains are designed to be a network of peers, but not designed such that it’s really possible for your mobile device or your browser to be one of those peers.