Former Premier still backs east-west pipeline

A former premier reiterated his support for a gas pipeline linking the east and west of Australia.

Colin Barnett, who was Premier of Western Australia for almost a decade until 2017, still supports the development of a pipeline linking WA’s gas reserves in the northwest of the with the east coast grid.

His comments follow the release of a feasibility study last year, commissioned by the Department of the Environment and Energy, which found commercial and market risks presented major challenges to the estimated $5.8 billion project, despite it being a technically feasible option to increase the supply of gas to the eastern states.

Colin Barnett.

Speaking to The Australian, Mr Barnett said he still believed the pipeline could be a “silver bullet” for the Australia’s energy problems and disputed the findings of the report.

“It is an absolutely doable project,” he said.

“Gas wouldn’t become the major source of energy on the east coast but it would stabilise the system.

“It gives flexibility and it would solve the crisis. It is a silver bullet.”

Mr Barnett said he believed the project could be completed in a similar timeframe to other large pipeline projects completed in the state, less than the five years predicted by the report.

However, there are companies opposed to the idea, including one of WA and the country’s largest producers of gas.

Woodside CFO Sherry Duhe told The Australian existing east coast gas resources and proposed LNG import facilities represented better alternatives to solve the country’s energy issues.

“We’ve been very clear for a long time now that it just doesn’t make sense to build how many thousands of kilometres of pipeline when there’s gas on the east coast that can be used to solve this problem, or some sort of virtual supply situation that would solve it far more economically,” she said.

Referring to the government report, Ms Duhe said, “I’m pleased that someone had a logical analysis.”

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