Discoveries of gas in South Australia’s Cooper Basin in the 1960s saw the birth of the natural gas industry in Australia. These discoveries led to the construction of necessary infrastructure, including pipelines, which would eventually create a natural gas transmission network that now services the eastern states and territory of Australia.
Founded in 1954, Santos was one of the first companies to commercialise and market gas in South Australia, making its first significant discovery of natural gas in the Cooper Basin with the Gidgealpa-2 well in 1963. The Moomba-1 gas discovery in 1966 confirmed the region as a major petroleum province.
In order to commercialise these discoveries, Santos entered into gas sales agreements with the South Australian Gas Company, the Electricity Trust of South Australia and the Australian Gas Light Company (AGL). Gas supplies then commenced in 1969.
All pipelines lead from Moomba
Fluor Australia was contracted to construct the gas gathering facilities in Gidgealpa. The central processing plant at Moomba was designed and built by Davy Ashmore of Melbourne at a cost of $50 million.
The plant currently accepts production from 115 gas fields and 28 oil fields containing 536 producing gas wells and 177 producing oil wells through approximately 5,600 km of pipelines and flowlines via 24 oil and gas satellite facilities.
Sales gas is currently sent from Moomba via the 790 km Moomba to Adelaide Pipeline and via the 1,160 km Moomba to Sydney Gas Pipeline. Ethane is sent to Qenos in Sydney via a 1,375 km dedicated pipeline.
The Moomba facility also incorporates substantial underground storage for processed sales gas and ethane. Natural gas liquids are also processed in the Moomba plant and sent together with stabilised crude oil and condensate through a 659 km pipeline to Port Bonython, located near Whyalla.
Moomba to Adelaide Pipeline
The 790 km, 550 mm diameter Moomba to Adelaide Pipeline was one of the first high pressure gas transmission pipelines to be built in Australia, and the first to bring gas to Adelaide.
From the Moomba gas processing plant, the pipeline crosses the desert in a straight line, skirts Peterborough, Auburn and Hamley Bridge, and reaches Gepps Cross via the Port Wakefield Road. It services Adelaide and South Australian regional centres.
Tenders for construction were invited from Australian and overseas contractors in June 1968. Engineering and management of the pipeline was carried out by Bechtel Pacific Corporation, with Italian pipeline contractors Snamprogetti securing construction and field welding of the pipeline.
The line was completed in ten months, two months ahead of schedule in world record time for a pipeline of its size. The $40 million pipe was officially opened on 28 November 1969, becoming the longest continuously welded high pressure line in Australia at the time.
In 1985, the Pipeline Authority of South Australia awarded Steel Mains a contract to manufacture and supply 42 km of 508 mm diameter pipe for looping the Moomba to Adelaide Pipeline from Wasleys to Adelaide. Construction was undertaken by McConnell Dowell.
In 1999, current owner Epic Energy upgraded the pipeline, boosting capacity to 40 TJ/d, and in the following year commenced a substantial expansion of the pipeline to supply natural gas to National Power’s Pelican Point Power Station. The expansion involved the upgrading of existing compressor stations, the construction of a 34 km, 600 mm diameter mainline pipeline and a new compressor station at Wasleys. KT Pipelines completed the pipeline works.
Since its commissioning, the pipeline has had seven compressor stations added to the mainline. Today, the pipeline has a maximum capacity of 418 TJ/d.
Moomba to Adelaide laterals
Two major lateral pipelines connect to the Moomba to Adelaide mainline.
Pipeline & Engineering Contractors completed the 200 mm diameter, 89 km Port Pirie to Whyalla Gas Pipeline 1989.
The lateral runs from Bungama, across the Spencer Gulf to supply gas to OneSteel’s Whyalla Steelworks and the Whyalla township. It has a maximum capacity of approximately 24 TJ/d.
The 230 km, 100 mm diameter Angaston to Berri Lateral, also known as the Riverland Pipeline, was completed by McConnell Dowell in 1994. Construction was organised and managed by the Pipeline Authority of South Australia, with funding and ownership by SAGASCO. The pipeline has a maximum capacity of 20 TJ/d of gas.
In 1999, AJ Lucas was contracted to construct an extension of the lateral running from Berri to Mildura. The Angaston to Berri and Berri to Mildura sections are now both owned by Envestra.
SEA Gas Pipeline
South East Australia Gas Pty Ltd (SEA Gas) operates the high pressure natural gas transmission pipeline system that transports natural gas from Port Campbell and Iona in Victoria to markets in South Australia and Victoria. The pipeline supplies over 50 per cent of Adelaide’s natural gas energy needs.
In May 2001, the South Australian Government entered into a facilitation agreement with an alliance of Australian National Power, Origin Energy, and SAMAG for the construction of the 690 km SEA Gas Pipeline from Victoria to Adelaide.
The pipeline has a unique dual pipeline section, constructed because of an expansion in capacity to include the gas needs of TXU. This meant that an increase in pipe diameter from 14 inches to 18 inches was required. The pipe had already been ordered for the project and it was decided that dual pipelines would transport gas along part of the SEA Gas route, with bigger pipe ordered for the rest, increasing the pipeline’s capacity from 70 PJ/a to 125 PJ/a. A Spiecapag/Lucas joint venture provided engineering, procurement and construction management for the project.
The pipeline was completed at the start of 2004. The pipeline is now owned by partners International Power, APA Group and TRUenergy.
SEA Gas has planned activities for the SEA Gas Pipeline during the 2009-10 licence year, including the installation of a lightning conductor pole and repairs to the cathodic protection unit located at Yallamurray main line valve, the overhaul of flow control valves at Pelican Point, Quarantine and Torrens Island metering facilities, further scheduled maintenance of the pipeline and infrastructure, as well as ongoing corrosion mitigation via coating of above ground pipe work at Jervois and Naracoorte metering facilities and throughout the Adelaide metropolitan area.
There will also be upgrades made to existing signage along the easement between Pelican Point and the South Australian-Victorian border and environmental improvements and monitoring along the pipeline route.
SESA Pipeline and the South East Pipeline System
In 2005, the 45 km, 250 mm diameter South East South Australia Pipeline, which had been constructed by Nacap Australia, began supplying natural gas.
The pipeline was built to enable the transportation of additional gas from the Victorian Otway and Gippsland basins via the SEA Gas Pipeline to the existing facilities at Katnook/Ladbrook Grove. Currently owned by APA Group, the pipeline ties into the SEA Gas Pipeline near Poolaijelo in Victoria.
Gas from the Katnook/Ladbrook Grove area was already being transported to the Snuggery and Mount Gambia areas via Epic Energy’s 70 km South East Pipeline System, which was built in 1991.
The 150 mm diameter sections of the South East Pipeline System were constructed by AJ Lucas, while Richardson Constructions built the 50 mm diameter sections of the system.
Ensuring SA’s water future
The South Australian Government is attempting to increase water security by building infrastructure to boost supply, which has steadily decreased due to severe and prolonged drought and dangerously low levels in the Murray River. New water processing methods requiring desalination plants and associated pipelines are a part of the South Australian Government’s $450 million water plan.
Under the plan, entitled Water for Good, state water company SA Water is to develop options for upgrading existing water mains and infrastructure to minimise costs and impacts on the community.
SA Water is considering constructing a large diameter pipeline to connect the Hope Valley Reservoir in Adelaide’s north to the Happy Valley Reservoir in the south.
The project is aiming for design completion and financial approvals in mid-2011, to allow full use of water from the expanded Adelaide desalination plant in 2012.
Eyre Peninsula Water Pipeline
The 90 km Eyre Peninsula Water Pipeline crosses the Eyre Peninsula from Iron Knob to Kimba. The pipeline was completed in 2007 and has the capacity to supply up to 1.4 GL/a of water to Eyre Peninsula.
Two contractors – BJ Jarrad and Leed Engineering – laid approximately 45 km of pipeline each, resulting in the extension of the Morgan to Whyalla Pipeline from Iron Knob to Kimba.
Lower Lakes Pipeline
The Lower Lakes Pipeline Network’s main pipeline running from Jervois near Tailem Bend to Langhorne Creek and Currency Creek, South Australia, was completed and commissioned in 2009. The 105 km pipeline measures 200-1,000 mm in diameter with a series of connecting pipelines with diameters from 25-30 mm.
Water pipeline extensions
Up to $7.34 million will be used to fund two potable water pipeline extensions to Point Sturt and Hindmarsh Island. The first proposed pipeline is an 11 km extension branching from the Milang – Clayton Pipeline to Point Sturt on Lake Alexandrina. The second pipeline is a 12.6 km extension from an existing main servicing the Hindmarsh Island marina precinct in the southwest to the eastern side of the island.
The two pipeline extensions are expected to be completed in early 2010.
Young’s Well to Pukatja Pipeline
A 14 km potable water pipeline will be constructed from Young’s Well to the remote indigenous community of Pukatja as part of the Army Aboriginal Community Assistance Program.
Pukatja is located 30 km south of the South Australia/Northern Territory border in the Musgrave Ranges. The pipeline is expected to be constructed between April and September 2010.
Port Stanvac Desalination Pipeline
An 11.5 km transfer pipeline was recently completed, running from the Port Stanvac Desalination Plant to the Happy Valley Water Treatment Plant. Desalination water will be pumped through the pipeline to Happy Valley, where it will be combined with water from the treatment plant before entering the existing water supply network.
A joint venture between McConnell Dowell and Built Environs constructed the pipeline.
Projects in the pipeline
In May 2009, BHP Billiton released a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for the expansion of its Olympic Dam mining project, located in northern South Australia.
The draft EIS covers a number of major items of infrastructure, including a 250 km gas pipeline connecting Moomba to a proposed 400 MW gas-fired power station at Olympic Dam. In addition, a 320 km water pipeline has been proposed to connect Olympic Dam to a potential coastal desalination plant located in Point Lowly on the Upper Spencer Gulf. The pipeline is to supply 200 ML/d of water.
BHP said that the expansion would be a progressive development requiring construction activity over an eleven year period.
Katnook to Jacaranda Ridge Pipeline
Adelaide Energy has commenced construction on a 23 km gas pipeline to tie the Jacaranda Ridge-2 and Limestone Ridge-1 wells into the Katnook Gas Plant near Penola, both located in the onshore Otway Basin.
The pipeline would cost approximately $3.5 million to build, and is expected to be completed by early April 2010.
Flax-Yarrow Development Project
In 2007, Innamincka Petroleum proposed the construction of a 152 mm diameter, 110 km pipeline to connect its Flax-Yarrow Development Project, located just north of Innamincka to the Moomba gas facility.
The project has since been shelved as Innamincka concentrates on proving up reserves to warrant the development of a pipeline.
The company is also planning a 30 km pipeline that will run from the Crocus field in PEL 101 to the proposed Yarrow modular type gas processing plant in PEL 103. Innamincka has said it aims to develop a carbon dioxide stream to Flax injection at the processing plant. Once a final decision has been made, a gas connection from the Crocus – Yarrow Pipeline to the QSN Link will be constructed.
South Australia’s pipeline future
South Australia’s pipeline history is rich and the future promises to be bright as the state works to secure its water resources through the construction of pipelines as well as desalination plants and associated infrastructure.
The Moomba processing facility remains an integral part of Australia’s gas pipeline network, delivering gas to South Australia, Queensland and New South Wales. The pipeline industry in South Australia continues to look strong, as companies such as Santos move to capitalise on continued discoveries of natural gas and oil in the Cooper-Eromanga Basin.
Liquid pipelines constructed in South Australia
In 1980, the Pipeline Authority of South Australia appointed the Bechtel-Kinhill Joint Venture to carry out the study of various options for the 659 km, 356 mm diameter Moomba to Stony Point Liquids Pipeline.
In June 1981, the South Australian Government announced that Santos would build and operate the Moomba to Stony Point Liquids Pipeline. Santos placed orders for pipe from Australian and Japanese mills.
Construction on the pipeline began in February 1982. The pipeline parallels the route of the Moomba to Adelaide Gas Pipeline for 353 km and then diverges southwest across the Flinders Ranges to Neuroodla before turning south to Stony Point. The pipeline was constructed by Saipem with major earthworks being subcontracted to Macmahon Construction and Prentice Brothers. The liquids pipeline transported oil to the Santos-operated processing plant located in Port Bonython. The pipeline and plant cost approximately $450 million to construct, and LPG production commenced in 1984, with the first exports sent to Japan.
In 2009, Santos advised that construction activity was continuing on the facilities upgrade work at Moomba and Port Bonython to handle the increased oil volumes being received through the recently completed Jackson to Moomba Pipeline.
The 273 km, 219 mm diameter Jackson to Moomba Pipeline was constructed to transport oil from Santos’ oil plant at Jackson to Moomba. Diversified Construction Corporation constructed the pipeline, which took six months to complete.
Project Magnet Slurry and Water Pipeline
Construction of two 62 km pipelines, one slurry and one water, between the Whyalla Port and OneSteel’s Whyalla Steelworks was completed in 2006. The pipelines were built as part of Project Magnet, which involved the conversion of the Whyalla Steelworks from being fired by hematite ore to magnetite ore. The slurry pipeline transports magnetite ore to Whyalla while the water pipeline transports water back to the Iron Duke mine site. ThiessNacap constructed the pipelines.