Debate fires up on natural gas pipeline

PREMIER Geoff Gallop renewed calls for an investigation into a transcontinental natural gas pipeline in an address to the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association conference, which was held in Perth this week. Dr Gallop made special mention of the need for more infrastructure investment in the industry. A transcontinental pipeline would provide greater choice and competition, increase Australia’s energy supply security and help achieve greenhouse gas emission targets, Dr Gallop told conference delegates. The State Government has previously said it was considering developing a 2,900 kilometre pipeline from Karratha to Adelaide at a projected cost of $3 billion. Consultancy firm ACIL Tasman says it is very likely a pipeline will be built, either privately or as a public-private joint-venture, and that it is simply a question of when. ACIL Tasman state manager Ian Satchwell said the timing would be dictated by the market, however it would most likely be after 2016, assuming a pipeline from Papua New Guinea was built through to Queensland. He said the project needed a major buyer or group of buyers to make a commitment to a long-term, high-volume purchase. WorleyParsons has estimated the total capital expenditure of a pipeline to be in the vicinity of $3.31 billion. Woodside was known to be examining the viability of a shorter 2,200km pipeline from the Browse Basin to the Moomba gas hub in South Australia, which is now considered unlikely due to the PNG pipeline. The infrastructure debate comes after Shell Australia announced this week it would be supplying its Energia Costa Azul liquefied natural gas plant in Mexico, currently under construction, with gas from the state’s North West Shelf Gorgon project.

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