Energy Minister outlines condition of Australia’s pipeline industry

Mr Ferguson stated that the increasing popularity of natural gas and the rapid development of CSG production were major factors in pipeline industry development in Australia.

“The opportunities for Australia’s pipeline industry created through the development of our abundant gas resources are self-evident. A typical CSG-LNG project requires around 550 km of major transmission pipeline which in turn can be supported by an additional 4,000 km of feeder lines,” said Mr Ferguson.

According to Mr Ferguson, the increase in CSG production has created employment opportunities, and economic and regional development opportunities. However, Mr Ferguson stressed that addressing community concerns around CSG is vital to the industry retaining its social licence to operate.

Mr Ferguson then outlined the challenge of delivering projects on time and on budget that is arising as a result of the boom in Australian resource projects, and what the government is doing to resolve these pressures.

“A skills gap extends across a wide range of functions from capital project designers to geologists to truck drivers to machine operators,” said Mr Ferguson.

“The Australian Government is currently growing the pool of skilled labour to help meet these needs. Most of our efforts are described in the National Resources Sector Workforce Strategy, and consists of 31 actions, including the introduction of the Enterprise Migration Agreements system.

“Project owners are also required to implement training commitments to address future skills needs.”

Mr Ferguson said that providing adequate infrastructure is another key factor in ensuring new projects can proceed as planned.

“The Australian, state and territory governments must collaborate with industry members across the country to ensure that adequate capacity is developed.

“This includes working through programs like the Regional Infrastructure Fund, National Ports Strategy and National Land Freight Strategy.

“The Australian Government is concurrently funding the Energy Pipelines Cooperative Research Centre to undertake research and education relevant to the pipeline industry in Australia.

“We have committed to provide $A17.5 million over 10 years to create the technology necessary to achieve four main aims:

  • Extending the safe operating life of our ageing natural gas transmission network and avoiding the need for replacement;
  • Building the new pipeline networks necessary to support increased demand for natural gas;
  • Building pipeline networks to enable transmission of new energy cycle fluids such as hydrogen and carbon dioxide; and,
  • Preventing pipeline failures that could lead to costs and harm,” said Mr Ferguson.

Finally, Mr Ferguson outlined the Federal Government’s approach to domestic gas markets and in particular the rising concern about the availability of domestic gas to provide for the east coast’s future energy security.

“The Australian Government believes in allowing gas markets to adjust to new dynamics rather than trying to constrain prices or supply through intervention. The focus should be on providing greater transparency and trading opportunities and removing impediments to investment in new supply,” said Mr Ferguson.

The 2012 APIA Convention and Exhibition was held from 13-16 October 2012 at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

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