23/06/2008 - 14:22

Gas shortage to last 6 months

23/06/2008 - 14:22

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The state's gas shortage is expected to last for another six months as Apache Energy Ltd, the operator of the shut down Varanus Island gas plant, calls on the federal government to review a policy that may have exacerbated damage at the facility.

Gas shortage to last 6 months

The state's gas shortage is expected to last for another six months as Apache Energy Ltd, the operator of the shut down Varanus Island gas plant, calls on the federal government to review a policy that may have exacerbated damage at the facility.

Two adjacent gas sales pipelines at the plant, offshore from Karratha, ruptured than exploded on June 3 and caused a fire that shut down the facility and cut gas supplies to WA by one third.

The company said after the fire that caused the first pipeline explosion also caused a second pipeline to breach.

Apache was questioned by the media whether the incident would have been less serious if the pipelines were well away from each other.

Apache managing director Tim Wall said the pipelines were situated next to each other to keep their environmental footprint on the tiny island to a minimum.

But during a media teleconference today, Mr Wall said the policy of pipeline location needed to be reviewed.

"I think the government and industry can look at reviewing that policy and see if it makes sense," Mr Wall said.

"I think that's probably something we should do."

The company today put out a timetable for the restoring of gas supplies to the state, estimating that partial production of 200 terajoules per day will resume on August 15 through the East Spar joint venture.

Gas supply will then be ramped up to 350TJ in December as the Harriet JV facilities are returned to production.

Mr Wall would not speculate as to which customers will receive gas first, however he did confirm that companies sign up to gas supplies based on the joint ventures.

When quizzed as to whether East Spar JV customers will receive gas supplies ahead of the Harriet JV, of which Burrup Fertilisers is a customer of, Mr Wall said he could not disclose that due to confidentiality clauses in contracts.

He would also not say if Alinta would be on a priority list to receive gas supplies, and left it up to the state government of whether calls to households to conserve gas would be upheld.

Western Power assistant manager Ken Brown today said the recommissioning of coal-fired power stations over the next week and a half would see more power coming back on line within days.

But he said the state's already low diesel stocks would be further depleted because of demand from the power stations.

"The next week and a half is the more difficult time from my point of view because there are some coal-fired units coming back over the next few days and the next few weeks," Mr Brown told Fairfax Radio.

"We've got one hopefully synchronising tonight and that will get a little a little bit of megawatts coming out by Wednesday.
An investigation by the National Offshore Petroleum Safety Authority is expected to take three months to complete.

Mr Wall said a separate investigation by a Singaporean forensic science team had progressed, removed samples from the site and were analysing them in Singapore.

However ,he would not indicate when Apache Energy's internal investigation would be completed.

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