It’s not difficult to see why the affable Australian Paul Everingham who has a ready smile was recently appointed chief executive of the Asia Natural Gas & Energy Association (ANGEA).

Although he admits his current role is “very, very different” from his last job — Everingham led the Chamber of Minerals & Energy of Western Australia, a trade association that was domestically-focused on policy, regulatory and safety issues — his skills and experience, and likely also his easygoing manner, saw him headhunted for the ANGEA job.

“I was approached by a recruiter, they said ‘it’s a new industry association, it’s basically representing the entire supply chain of natural gas producers, suppliers, users, the Japanese utilities, shipping and engineering’,” Everingham says.

“At the moment it’s got American, Australian and Japanese membership and we’re hopeful that in the near future we’ll also have Korean members. We are actively recruiting new members,” he tells Upstream over a coffee.

“We don’t really want ANGEA to ever be a very big industry advocacy organisation. We’re more focused on the pioneers of the LNG industry — in countries like Japan, Australia, the US, Korea — taking their experience, their knowledge, their expertise and helping to advise, consult and support any of the Asean countries that would like to move to natural gas as the obvious transition fuel,” Everingham says.

“ANGEA is focused on affordable, reliable, sustainable energy with the view to making sure we do it responsibly. Our member companies have publicly committed to achieving net zero by 2050. We hope to bring solutions for energy, for infrastructure, for decarbonisation which will include gas, carbon capture, utilisation and sequestration, ammonia and ultimately hydrogen.”

Key elements of his current job — Everingham is on an initial three-year contract — are to communicate the association’s message and advocate for gas as the pillar of the region’s energy security amid the energy transition.

“The role was really attractive to me. It’s a very responsible science-based pathway,” he says, not least as coal is still a dominant part of the energy mix across much of the Asian region.

“America, Britain and Australia talk about the solar revolution, the wind revolution and the renewables revolution,” he says.

“That’s all fantastic, but we’re trying to take incremental steps away from coal and diesel use towards gas, which is 45% cleaner than coal.

Everingham says gas is “extremely contiguous” with with renewables: “You can turn gas-fired power on when the wind isn’t blowing and when the sun’s not shining.”

“That’s the other thing many of my fellow Australians aren’t really that aware of, when you hear them they comment about Southeast Asia not decarbonising fast enough. If you live near the equator there’s not enough wind, and humidity means that the skies are regularly cloudy,” he points out.

Gas will continue to play a key role in the region’s energy mix for for a long time, he says. “However, ammonia is a lot closer than people realise. I think you might see companies shipping ammonia in the next two years.”

However, Asia holds just 9% of the world’s proven gas reserves, which coupled with the region’s political and geographical diversity, makes energy security less certain and more easily disrupted than in other regions, notes ANGEA.

“The additional demands of climate change, climate commitments by nations in the region and complex geopolitics make a multipronged approach necessary and provides an opportunity for ANGEA to add value to stakeholders in industry, government and the community,” it says.

The association, originally inspired by Asia-based Chevron personnel, has a stated goal to “work constructively with governments, society and industry to build effective and integrated energy policies that meet each country’s climate objectives while promoting national and regional economic sustainable growth”.

ANGEA’s founders are now in very senior management at the US supermajor — including the current ANGEA chairman,Chevron veteran Nigel Hearne, a well-known figure in the Asia Pacific oil and gas industry.

Everingham proudly says ANGEA “is here for the long haul”, connecting witch each together and with policymakers.

A whirlwind few months

He describes his first couple of months with the organisation as “a whirlwind of meetings, business cards and discussions”.

But he says one consistent message has shone through: it is vitally important for nations across Asia have access to an adequate supply of energy at an affordable price.

“The other big query that has come up in just about every conversation I’ve had — and which is a critical issue for the region ANGEA supports — is whether industry can decarbonise more quickly and cheaply,” he says.

Everingham’s appointment as ANGEA chief executive coincided with the Gastech 2022 conference in Milan, where the company’s board and steering committee met in person; and he is now living in Singapore, which will host Gastech 2023 in September.

Everingham moved to Singapore in August, and seems to have quickly and easily settled in to life in the Lion City, living in an apartment in the expat-favoured Holland Village, where he has cafes serving good coffee and a great delicatessen on his doorstep.

He is as enthusiastic and passionate about his hobbies as he is of ANGEA and the association’s aims and ambitions.

“I love riding my bike!” he exclaims. “I like watching basketball and football — yeah, Australian Rules [football] — on the television, and I quite like watching movies.”

A personal favourite is the Godfather Part II, which he admits he has seen maybe “20 times”.

His preferred genre of books is non-fiction and favourite authors include the Czech-Canadian scientist policy analyst Vaclav Smil, whose best-sellers include How the World Really Works: A Scientist’s Guide to Our Past, Present and Future.

“I love doing things with my wife and daughters,” Everingham says. “I like to be involved in their lives.”

His wife and two daughters will soon return from their native Australia to join him, and the family are looking forward to their first Christmas in Singapore.

Neither the climate nor lifestyle in the city state comes as a shock to Everingham, who was born in Alice Springs, in Australia’s Northern Territory, in the 1970s.

“When my Dad got into politics, we moved up to Darwin… which is probably Australia’s most Asian city with many people of Indonesian, Malay, Chinese and Timorese origin,” he says.

“It was a wonderful youth, living outdoors in temperatures much the same as here in Singapore. It’s hot every day in Darwin — it’s average temperature is 30 degrees [Celsius] and with almost 100% humidity.”

If ANGEA was looking for energy and enthusiasm in a chief executive, it has found the right man for the job.