Shell Australia chairman Andrew Smith says burning so much brown coal is absurd.

The head of Australia’s largest gas exporter wants the nation to use more of it.

Mr Smith will address the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association conference in Brisbane on Monday.

He is expected to call on gas producers to work out how to prosper in the carbon-constrained future.

“It strikes me as absurd that a nation as rich in natural gas as Australia persists in burning brown coal for electricity generation,” Mr Smith’s notes for his industry speech say, according to News Corp

French firm Engie, owner of Hazelwood – Australia’s biggest and dirtiest power stations - says it will look to close or exit operations of the generator.

But there does not appear to be much interest in Victoria’s onshore gas reserves, some of which are still the subject of an ongoing ban. 

“In Victoria, where brown coal continues to be used to generate a vast majority of electricity, both the state government and state opposition have stifled access to onshore gas reserves,” Mr Smith said.

“A well-regulated onshore gas industry, like that in Queensland, is the only reliable way to displace the dirtiest power generation in the nation — as a partner with renewables.”

The industry considers gas an important step on the path to renewable energy.

Diminishing coal prices and sophisticated campaigns against fossil fuels are creating big headaches, but Mr Smith says LNG will still be essential for the world’s future energy mix.

Conservationists see a move from coal to gas as a sign of the fossil fuel industry looking to bleed the last drops of profit out of a destructive technology.

Mr Smith will reportedly tell this week’s conference that “coal has had a profound impact on global economic advancement, and that will continue”.

“But as we strive to minimise carbon emissions, we need to rethink uses of coal outside of metallurgical applications and efficient new technology power generation using black coal.”

The orchestrators of Australia’s energy industry are gathering under the theme; “Competing for growth”.

The conference is expected to hear calls for honesty, acceptance of renewable, and the promotion of the role of gas to complement renewables.

“There is no doubt our industry is the subject of an orchestrated, organised and well-funded campaign to hem in its further development,” Mr Smith’s notes state.

“There has been complacency from our industry, which in too many cases believed it could simply woo communities with new investments and well-paid jobs — and when that didn’t work believed governments would simply sort things out,” he will tell the conference.