Helping keep the lights on for 20 years

From one person and a dog to now a vital part of the South Australia’s energy supply system, SEA Gas has helped keep the lights on in the state since 2004.

The name SEA Gas filtered through the pipes of the industry following a catastrophic event at Santos’ Moomba gas plant facility on 1 January 2004. 

It was from here the company’s first leader Ashely Kellett laid strong foundations to build it to what it is today when the pipeline was commissioned earlier than expected, joining in the 2004 New Year’s Day celebrations.

SEA Gas was established in 2002 to develop, own and operate the 700km underground high-pressure natural gas pipeline transmission system from Port Campbell in Victoria, connecting the Otway and Bass Basins, to Adelaide in South Australia.

SEA Gas hosted a VIP event to celebrate 20 years of business. Image: SEA Gas

A 50/50 partnership between APA Group and Rest, the pipeline system has been delivering gas to South Australia for 20 years and has no signs of slowing down.

In a recent VIP event to honour the milestone, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Eric Bardy said it was with great pride and gratitude he stood before his guests to celebrate two decades of SEA Gas’ operations.

“I actually prefer to look to the future then dwell on the past, but it’s fitting that we celebrate the success of an organisation that has been helping keep the lights on in this state and more since 2004,” Bardy said.

SEA Gas commissioned an art piece from Gavin Wanganeen, symbolising its connection with the land on which it operates. Image: SEA Gas

With now 40 employees and a number of long-standing customers, SEA Gas sees them as the lifeblood of its existence. Through working with Origin, AGL, EA, Engie, SA Water, Teys, and Beston Foods, and the foundation shipper agreements ending in 2019 under Wendy Oldham’s leadership, the business has been able to look at innovative ways to meet its customers’ needs.

As a result, SEA Gas can now store enough gas on the pipeline to run Pelican Point for three to four days, continuing to demonstrate how the business has increased resilience and drive to meet the challenges of the energy transition.

Bardy acknowledged that while the business has changed in some facets, it will continue to change through the energy transition to both store and transport energy to use when the sun doesn’t shine, and the wind doesn’t blow.

“We’re fully exposed to all of the elements of the energy transition that are going on the East Coast. Compared to when I started to now, I’ve seen the industry go from feeding baseload gas fired power stations, to essentially power stations only sporadically needing gas for peak flow,” he said.

(L-R) Shadow Minister for Energy and Net Zero Stephen Patterson, SEA Gas CEO Eric Bardy, Minister for Energy Tom Koutsantonis, and artist Gavin Wanganeen. Image: SEA Gas

“We now pride ourselves on the fact that we can store gas for those days when it’s required. Our role in the whole supply chain, for electricity, has changed dramatically. I’ve seen that first-hand of running the pipeline as head of operations.

“The transition for me to CEO is now I’ve gone from very much an inward-looking role to very much an outward looking role.”

Today, the SEA Gas pipeline consists of two compressors, one near Hamilton in Victoria and the other near Coomandook in South Australia, both helping hit the maximum allowable pipeline operating pressure of 15MPa.

Each compressor station is also equipped with a solar Centaur compressor plus gas turbine driver.

Striving to engage with the communities it operates in, SEA Gas maintains regular face-to-face contact with nearly 1000 landholders who host its easements.

Additionally, its relationships with the South Australian and Victorian regulators has also helped the business’ commitment to prioritising public, process and personal safety while maintaining a reliable operation for its customers.

This was evident at the VIP evening when Minister for Energy Tom Koutsantonis, Shadow Minister for Energy and Net Zero Stephen Patterson, and Australian Pipeline and Gas Association CEO Steve Davies attended.

Looking at the future of SEA Gas’ goals, Bardy said the focus is helping facilitate energy security for both South Australia and Victoria.

“The southern states are moving towards being short of gas in a few years’ time and we are part of the answer,” he said.

“This will be achieved by either bringing gas down from the north with a connection to the Moomba pipeline, or by bringing gas in from an LNG import terminal.”

“We’re happy with either of those, or both of those scenarios, and will continue working towards one or both of them over the next year or so as I believe we can help keep the lights on for decades to come.”

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This article featured in the May edition of The Australian Pipeliner. 

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