Beach Energy faces heat over shock CEO exit, fossil fuels’ future

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Slater & Gordon and Shine Lawyers are investigating lawsuits following a subsequent steep fall in Beach’s share price earlier this year, but are yet to file proceedings. Beach has indicated any such claim would be “vigorously defended”.

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Beach has also been facing mounting pressure from shareholders and activists about the long-term outlook for fossil fuels in a world that must urgently decarbonise to avoid catastrophic global warming.

In the lead-up to this month’s COP26 summit in Glasgow, UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres said the latest scientific warnings on the effect of human-induced climate change “must sound a death knell” for fossil fuels “before they destroy our planet”. The International Energy Agency (IEA), meanwhile, has calculated that no new oil and gas fields must be developed to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 and keep the planet’s heating below 1.5 degrees.

Mr Davis, who faced a series of climate-related questions from proxy-holders on Wednesday, said IEA net-zero report released in May represented just “one possible scenario”, rather than the only pathway, to achieving net-zero emissions”.

He pointed out that the IEA had separately acknowledged that maintaining energy security was vital. “We see that as part of the role here at Beach Energy – to avoid the sort of spikes we’ve seen in China and Europe in very recent months,” he said.

Around the world, prices for gas and coal are skyrocketing, as a sharper-than-expected post-pandemic rebound in economic and industrial activity collides with global supply shortages, threatening the ability of some countries to keep the lights on.

Mr Davis said some of the IEA’s scenarios suggest demand for gas – a fuel widely used in heating, power generation and manufacturing – may continue to grow for many years to come, even as decarbonisation efforts accelerate. Meanwhile, in Australia’s southern states, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) predicts gas demand to outstrip available supply by as early as the mid-2020s, threatening gas demand shortfalls on peak winter days.

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