TAP Tower ad (right) midsept-midoct

2009: Queensland becomes the east coast gas hub

The global financial crisis (GFC) had kicked up a gear with the threat of economic instability poised to impact the nation’s economy.

The sector was in a strong position thanks to strong growth and investment, and was expected to be able to weather the downturn. The industry was more concerned about the government’s carbon pollution reduction scheme (CPRS) and what that meant for them and, in particular, for gas.

The government went from an emissions trading scheme (ETS) to the Renewable Energy Target (RET), which, according to APIA, undermined the market mechanism and discouraged the switch to natural gas.

By the beginning of 2009, gas was said to be the fastest growing fuel in Australia. Queensland’s vast coal seam gas (CSG) reserves were fast establishing the state as an east coast gas hub. CSG now supplied approximately 70 per cent of the gas market in Queensland.

L-R: Grant Harrison, Steve Dobbie and Ed Burrows at the Dampier to Bunbury Natural Gas Pipeline in Western Australia.

Gladstone was quickly becoming the centre of attention, attracting international interest, with many companies proposing large-scale LNG projects in the area. This included Santos and Petronas’ 450 km pipeline linking Santos’ Fairview CSG Field to a plant at Gladstone.

The Queensland Government was fostering an environment conducive to expansion, stating that it would build a ‘gas superhighway’ from the Callide Range through to Gladstone.

Arrow continued to develop the 440 km Central Queensland Gas Pipeline (CQGP) with joint venture partner AGL Energy, with the $475 million pipeline forming a key link in delivering CSG from the Moranbah Gas Processing Plant to Gladstone where it would connect into the pipeline grid.

Additionally, Arrow investigated an option to develop a 400-500 km pipeline from its Surat Basin tenements to Gladstone, as part of its CSG to LNG project with Shell that would require an investment of approximately $500 million.

Nacap Australia was awarded the construction of a natural gas pipeline set to run from Wallumbilla to Origin Energy’s Darling Downs Power Station.

As 2P gas reserves in the Cooper Basin Moomba declined and demand for natural gas increased in New South Wales, a significant proportion of New South Wales’ future gas supply was expected to come from CSG projects.

A development by AGL Energy and Epic Energy provided the link between Queensland’s coal seam gas fields and the transmission pipelines in NSW, SA, and eventually, if required, Victoria.

Queensland Hunter Gas Pipeline Pty Ltd received approval to construct and operate an 833 km high pressure transmission pipeline that runs from the Wallumbilla Gas Hub in south central Queensland to the existing Sydney to Newcastle Pipeline at Hexham in NSW, to provide gas to the Hunter region and the NSW metropolitan market.

Colongra Lateral Pipeline, Australia’s largest ever gas storage bottle, was completed in Jan 2009. It connected the Sydney to Newcastle pipeline to the Colongra Power Station. Designed and built by Jemena, it was and still is the largest diameter onshore gas pipeline.

The pipeline has a dynamic storage capacity of five hours and was built because the existing Sydney to Newcastle gas supply could not meet the peak demand of the station. The high pressure 9 km, 42 inch pipeline was an innovative solution to the problem of having to store one third of the 9 km of fully pressurised gas pipeline in a 1 km stretch of land, due to route restrictions.

Also completed in January 2009 was the 287 km Bonaparte Gas Pipeline, constructed to meet the Northern Territory’s long term gas requirements and replace the declining gas supply from the Palm Valley and Mereenie fields. The project included three major waterways being crossed, which necessitated the hiring of a licensed crocodile hunter to stand guard on the bank.

The Berwyndale to Wallumbilla Pipeline, the QSN Link Pipeline and the Wallumbilla Station were officially opened on 11 May 2009, by the South Australian Minister for Energy, Patrick Conlon.

The strict right-of-way access on the Berwyndale to Wallumbilla Pipeline.

The North West Shelf LNG Project continued to hold the title of Australia’s largest natural resource development after almost 25 years of production and was to be expanded by the North West Shelf Venture (NWSV).

Throughout the year, drought was affecting a number of areas throughout Australia.

In Victoria, it prompted the construction of the Wonthaggi Desalination Plant on the Bass Coast and the Wimmera Mallee Pipeline Project (WMPP) – where the region’s earthen channel system was being replaced by 9,000 km of pressurised pipeline. It was fast-tracked when the water storage capacities dropping below 10 per cent.

In Queensland, it prompted the Western Corridor Recycled Water (WCRW) Project in Brisbane’s southwest, which included a 200 km pipeline. It reached completion with the capacity to produce up to 232 ML/d of water.

The Western Pipeline Alliance, consisting of McConnell Dowell, Abigroup and GHD built more than 50 per cent of the pipeline in just six months using the Safety Box Robot, a trenching device that increased the speed of construction and improved safety for workers.

Due to the changing landscape, Australian state governments agreed to establish a single, industry funded national energy market operator, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), for both electricity and gas in order to improve energy market governance. APIA worked closely with the government to draft AEMO legislation to ensure it could facilitate and assist energy markets without imposing significant new regulatory burdens on industry.

The Productivity Commission called for a national offshore petroleum regulator to undertake resource management as well as pipeline and environmental regulation in Commonwealth and state and territory Waters.

Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Environment and Water, the Hon. Greg Hunt MP, launched APIA’s revised Code of Environmetal Practice: Onshore Pipelines at the Melbourne APIA dinner in March. He said that pipeline infrastructure was set to play a pivotal role in moves to secure Australia’s water supply and its transition to a clean energy economy.

The Federal Government also approved the Energy Pipelines Co-operative Research Centre (EPCRC), an Australian first, which would provide technical solutions to critical issues, including fracture control of carbon dioxide pipelines and the prevention of hydrogen embrittlement.

This proved to be a year of rapid expansion with the pipeline industry capitalising on the rapid growth in the LNG and CSG industries. Further pipeline infrastructure would be needed to transport new reserves well into the future.

This article was featured in the 2018 APGA 50th Anniversary celebration book.

If you have news you would like featured in The Australian Pipeliner contact Managing Director David Convery at dconvery@gs-press.com.au

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