2015: APA introduces the Wallumbilla evolution

A lot of change has happened in Australia’s east coast gas market over the past four years, and many of those changes have centred on Wallumbilla, the small rural town 436 km west of Brisbane that would be largely unknown if not for its status as a gas trading hub.

The hub’s significance has been heightened by the development of the CSG-to-LNG export projects at Gladstone – projects that were barely thought of a decade ago.

Responding to these changes, APA Group has invested in infrastructure and systems to facilitate the movement of gas, particularly through the Wallumbilla hub.

Network connections

The east coast gas market is now served by a grid of interconnected pipelines linking numerous basins to demand centres, allowing for a multitude of supply options.

At the same time, the once-in-a-generation investments in the LNG facilities and the emergence of CSG in Queensland has changed how shippers use these pipelines, which has required a new round of transmission investment to facilitate the changing market needs.

The most recent of these was the completion of works to facilitate bi-directional flow on APA’s 440 km Roma Brisbane Pipeline (RBP).

These changes allow gas to be receipted mid-way along the RBP to be directed either west to Wallumbilla or east to Brisbane. Gas flowing back to Wallumbilla can then be supplied to a number of demand centres, including the LNG export projects as well as to southern markets.

On the other side of the hub, APA has invested to expand capacity and provide bi-directional operation of the 937 km South West Queensland Pipeline (SWQP), again to meet the changing needs of shippers resulting from LNG and CSG developments.

The work involved the installation of new compressor stations at both Moomba and Wallumbilla and significant additional pipework within existing and expanded compounds at both sites. At Wallumbilla, it included construction of the new Compressor Station No.3, along with brownfield tie-in works to the Wallumbilla Meter Station and Compressor Stations No. 1 and 2.

The SWQP now has an easternhaul capacity of approximately 340 TJ and a westernhaul capacity of around 404 TJ, with a maximum allowable operating pressure (MAOP) of 14.9 MPa.

This provides pathways for Queensland CSG to compete with conventional gas from the Cooper, Otway and Gippsland basins for supply into the New South Wales (NSW), South Australian and Victorian markets, as well as allowing these conventional gas sources to augment CSG supplies for LNG export in the short to medium term.

Concurrent with the changes to the SWQP, work was underway to provide bi-directional capability on the 112 km Berwyndale Wallumbilla Pipeline.

The bi-directional capabilities on both pipelines were commissioned when the call came in December 2014 to flow gas eastward to fill the first LNG shipment from Gladstone.

Servicing the region

To support these physical changes, APA has developed three new services to help facilitate trade at Wallumbilla and support the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) Gas Supply Hub:

  • In-pipe trades service – allowing shippers to trade gas within the pipeline through virtual delivery and receipt points. This service facilitates the gas trading process between shippers and allows shippers to also trade at the Wallumbilla Gas Supply Hub;
  • Capacity trading service – allowing for the trade of firm operational pipeline capacity between parties. This service simplifies the capacity trading process and overcomes administrative and confidentiality barriers that can arise in respect of bare capacity transfers; and,
  • Short-term flexible services.

These services are available on pipelines interconnecting with the Wallumbilla Gas Supply Hub, as well as other major pipelines in the APA portfolio.

To further simplify shipment of gas across multiple assets, APA now also offers a single Gas Transportation Agreement encompassing a variety of services for delivery across its east coast grid.

Shippers are now able to contract with a single APA entity to receipt and deliver gas to various markets and facilities in Queensland, NSW and Victoria in a single transaction, allowing significant flexibility to manage their portfolios.

Single trading zone and operations centre

APA is working with industry and the AEMO to develop hub services to facilitate the transition to a single trading zone at the Wallumbilla Gas Supply Hub.

These services primarily involve the compression and redirection of gas around the Wallumbilla compound to facilitate transfer of gas between the various pipelines that meet at Wallumbilla.

Currently the Gas Supply Hub is operating as three separate pricing nodes, through the provision of hub services these pricing nodes can be consolidated into a single price point, which will potentially increase the pool of buyers and sellers and lead to more efficient market outcomes.

APA’s new Integrated Operations Centre (IOC) is also helping to facilitate operations at Wallumbilla. The Brisbane-based IOC is presently controlling APA’s pipelines that intersect at Wallumbilla, as well as the 840 km Carpentaria Gas Pipeline in western Queensland and pipelines in NSW and the Northern Territory.

Ultimately it will control APA’s national transmission portfolio. In centralising control at a single location, APA has brought together key business disciplines critical for end-to-end customer service delivery and improved integration of the operations, commercial and engineering disciplines in key decision processes.

This will enable APA to provide customers with the seamless and reliable services they are looking for.

This article was featured in the October 2015 edition of The Australian Pipeliner

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

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