AlintaGas powering on

ALINTAGAS is hoping to claim the number two spot in the WA electricity market as the State heads towards capacity constraint within two or three years, and full retail contestability in 2005.

Taking the view that it makes sense to sell more than gas to both its retail and industrial customers, WA’s premier gas distributor and retailer is not restricting its planning to the feasibility of a power plant near Perth in conjunction with NRG Asia-Pacific.

After reporting an after-tax profit of $32 million for the six months ending December 2001, AlintaGas remains aggressive in its approach towards achieving considerable growth, and while the feasibility outcome is pivotal to its goal, AlintaGas is looking at many more projects towards establishing an enviable market position.

While focusing on efficiencies, the company reports looking into 20 new and diversified business opportunities in energy-related products and infrastructure services.

The list of what to expect includes regional gas-fired power plant projects, ownership in small pipelines and laterals and the provision of other services – an extension of the idea behind last year’s formation of joint-venture company National Power Services.

AlintaGas chief executive officer Bob Browning said each week the company received approaches from industrial companies and those with renewable energy technology. The mix is local, interstate and international, but they all want the same thing – a partnership in a growing energy market.

Mr Browning said AlintaGas was pleased with information coming out of the State Government’s Electricity Reform Taskforce, and despite losing some industrial custom following the new-year introduction of choice of supplier for those consuming an annual one terajoule or more of natural gas, the company continued to look forward to full retail contestability in the gas market.

The Office of Energy is currently coordinating negotiations for the supply of electricity to Western Power in the Esperance and Exmouth regions.

Burns and Roe Worley is the preferred tenderer for each project, while a MAN B&W Diesel Australia/Empire Oil and Gas consortium is the reserve bidder for the Exmouth project.

A power purchase agreement was expected to be finalised for Esperance by late last year. Mr Browning said AlintaGas had considered supplying gas to the proposed gas-fired plant, but did not consider this economic unless there was an additional industrial load.

This week Western Power reported a half-yearly after-tax profit to December 2001 of $93.9million.

Full retail contestability in the WA gas market is planned for the first quarter, 2003.

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