Paul Everingham joined ANGEA as its inaugural CEO in September 2022. We caught up with Paul early in his tenure – ahead of a visit to Thailand to engage with key government officials and other stakeholders – to get his insights into the energy sector in Asia and how it fits into the global energy transition, what he hopes to achieve in the role, and a little bit about where he’s come from and his life outside of work.
Tell us a little bit about who Paul Everingham is?
As I’m sure many people have read, I’m an Australian – and I grew up in the Northern Territory and Queensland, which are Australia’s two most northern provinces. They are also the most humid, so a lot of the tropical weather I’ll encounter in Asia is something I’m quite used to.
I’m a naturally curious person and have worked in a diverse range of sectors, everything from mining and resources, to advertising, communications and lobbying, the public service and politics. Work is important to me and I’ve always been interested in solving problems, working collaboratively with other people to achieve practical outcomes. One of my biggest passions in the workplace is developing the people I have around me, empowering them to achieve their full potential. Humility and dignity are two of the character traits I most admire and look for in others.
What attracted you to taking on the role at ANGEA?
I am fascinated by the energy sector. It always interested me, even before I worked directly in it in Australia as the CEO of the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia – and since then it’s become a real passion for me.
I can’t think of a better place to further that passion than in Asia, where the energy transition is going to be so vital to a diverse range of economies and communities. I believe that this is the Asian Century where Asia rises to real prominence globally and this coupled with that energy transition is a very powerful combination. My vision is for ANGEA to play a key role in that. We are a relatively new organisation but we can be an influential voice in Asia for the natural gas and energy sector. That’s something I really want to build.
How are you finding the role so far?
It is early days but it has been very interesting and educational so far – and there will be much more to learn in the months ahead. Engaging strongly with key stakeholders and communities will be a core part of my role at all times, but especially in the first year in the job. That includes travelling widely in the region for a firsthand look at the operations and communities that will shape both ANGEA’s activities and the energy transition.
What are the biggest opportunities you see for energy transition across Asia?
Asia could potentially use the energy transition to become an even more powerful economic force. Moving from economies that are heavily reliant on coal and liquid fuels to a lower emissions economy will create unique opportunities for Asia. This could include becoming a regional hub for Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS); for hydogen and ammonia production and distribution; and much more. The thought of Asia establishing itself as a global leader in the energy transition is very exciting.
On the other side of the coin, what are some of the issues and challenges that might be associated with that?
Asia is still heavily reliant on coal and liquid fuels, like diesel. I think the transition away from them is challenging for any economy or group of economies and the same will be true in Asia. It’s not nearly as simple as just saying “let’s build a lot of solar and wind farms” and the problem will be resolved. But with collaboration within the region and smart and targeted investment – including in new infrastructure and supply chains – a successful transition is very much achievable.
What role does gas have to play as Asia moves towards a lower carbon future?
Asia is at the very heart of the world’s move towards a low carbon future. Half of the world’s 8 billion people live within this region, meaning that if Asia doesn’t meet its emissions reduction targets, then our planet probably doesn’t get there either. Natural gas is a reliable and affordable energy source that will be crucial to transitioning away from coal and liquid fuels. Gas is a natural partner for renewables, supplying power quickly when solar and wind are not available and ensuring the reliable supply that is so critical to our way of life.
Hydrogen is a commodity that’s spoken about a lot globally – where is that opportunity at, and what might the future look like for hydrogen use in Asia?
I think it’s really important to note that hydrogen isn’t a “new thing” – yes, it’s been talked about more publicly over the past couple of years but it’s a commodity that industry has long viewed as a potentially significant energy source. ANGEA’s members are at the forefront globally of developing hydrogen projects and there’s a lot of work behind the scenes that has gone into that. Our Japanese members, for example, have been working on hydrogen fuel solutions for more than 30 years.
Hydrogen won’t instantly become the dominant energy fuel but, in tandem with a transition to natural gas, it can be a commodity that very much helps Asia move away from high emission fuels towards a more sustainable future.
How has your experience in Australia prepared you for your role with ANGEA?
Having lived and worked in many parts of Australia, I have seen the valuable role that natural gas plays in providing an affordable, reliable and sustainable energy source. There are huge benefits that accompany that, for economies and communities. My engagement over the course of my career with many local and international energy companies has enabled me to witness firsthand how committed they are to a sustainable future. The more people understand that commitment, the smoother and more successful the energy transition can be.
What do you hope you can help build ANGEA into over the next few years?
Our members and I hope to see ANGEA become a trusted voice in Asia for government, industry and communities, especially with respect to the energy transition.
Lastly, tell us a little bit about Paul Everingham away from work?
I am married and have two teenage daughters. My wife and I are very proud of both of our daughters’ achievements. I enjoy reading, sport and exercising. Basketball is one of my big interests and I can often be found at suburban courts having a shootaround or playing a bit of pick-up.
Paul Everingham is the inaugural CEO of the Asia Natural Gas and Energy Association (ANGEA), which works with governments, society and industry throughout Asia to build effective and integrated energy policies that meet each country’s climate objectives. Contact him at email@example.com or on LinkedIn.