Moomba blast prompts pipe plan

A TRANSCONTINENTAL gas pipeline linking the North West with eastern States markets is back on the agenda following the Moomba Gas disaster in South Australia and the emerging gas shortage.

While the concept of a transcontinental gas pipeline linking WA with the eastern States is not new, the Gallop Government believes gas price increases resulting from the Moomba gas incident has made such a project feasible.

Premier Geoff Gallop revealed that the Government is considering a plan to build a 2,900-kilometre pipeline from Karratha to Adelaide at an estimated cost of $3 billion dollars.

The State Government is currently examining the potential for marketing WA gas in the eastern States through The Pilbara Coast Petroleum and Minerals Study, which also examines issues involved in development of the pipline. The study is part of a regional minerals program and is jointly funded by the State Government, Commonwealth and industry.

State Development Minister Clive Brown also revealed that he is considering combining the $3 billion State Government plan with a $2 billion plan by Woodside linking the Dampier to Bunbury and Goldfields gas pipelines.

Mr Brown said the expanded plan would provide surety of gas supply through multiple gas production sources, with no market dependent on a single source.

However, Mr Brown said: “Whether it is economically and fiscally viable would have to be tested in the marketplace, which is why we are discussing it with industry and the other States”.

Epic Energy, Woodside and the Gorgon Joint Venture proponents are also examining the viability of transcontinental gas pipelines.

A Woodside spokesman said the company was examining its Scott Reef and Brecknock gas resources in the Browse Basin as a potential gas supply.

Woodside is examining the viability of a shorter 2,200km gas pipeline which would take gas from the Browse Basin to the Moomba gas hub.

“We note ABARE’s forecast for a gas supply shortfall and concur with the view that, by 2014 to 2015, south-east Australia will be facing a potential gas supply shortfall. Browse is a potential supplier to those markets,” the spokesman told WA Business News.

“Browse is located 700km closer to Moomba than the North West Shelf gas reserves off the Pilbara coast, potentially giving it an economic advantage.”

Meanwhile, Epic Energy’s chief executive officer, David Williams, said the company had examined a number of different pipelines – from Dampier, Port Hedland and the Browse Basin to Moomba and Queensland.

“There are several alternative routes that Epic Energy has explored, including the opening up of the Browse Basin and from the Gorgon Field,” he told WA.

“This has been part of Epic Energy’s far-sighted vision for several years. “However, we believe it will be sustainable without government funding, but it will need an environment conducive to investment.”

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