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Australian pipeline industry outlook

LNG Industry,

As at 2009, Australia has around 30,000 km of long distance high pressure pipelines, of which more than 21,000 km are used to transport natural gas.

Pipelines in Australia

The long distance, relatively small diameter natural gas pipeline system is a function of Australia’s vast land mass, with small population centres along the coast, particularly in the south east. The Western Australian system and the pipeline in the Northern Territory are separate from the pipelines in the east, which are now linked, with at least two sources of natural gas coming into the capital cities of Adelaide (South Australia), Melbourne (Victoria), Sydney (New South Wales) and Brisbane (Queensland).

Long distance plans on hold

A possible transcontinental pipeline, bringing gas from the north west shelf near Western Australia to the eastern states has been considered in the past, as has a pipeline to bring gas from Papua New Guinea in the north, but the development of coal seam gas (CSG) reserves in Queensland and, potentially, New South Wales has put on hold the planning for these long distance pipelines.

Natural gas stakes its place

Natural gas consumption in Australia is increasing – in 2006/07 consumption increased by 7.2%. It is expected that natural gas will be the fastest growing source of energy in Australia over the next 30 years. An important influence on this growth is the focus on reducing carbon emissions. The Australian government plans to introduce policies that increase the cost of emissions and, therefore, discourage the use of coal for power generation. Even with the encouragement of renewable energy sources, natural gas is required as the back-up fuel because, by its nature, renewable energy is intermittent.

Australia’s natural gas reserves

Australia has about 170 000 PJ natural gas reserves. A large percentage of these reserves is found offshore Western Australia in the Carnarvon and Browse Basins and the Northern Territory in the Timor Sea. The gas resources in the Cooper Basin in central Australia, in the Gippsland Basin offshore the state of Victoria and the gas fields in the Denison and Surat Basins in Queensland have played very important roles in supplying the south eastern markets for the past 35 years. However, production in these fields is expected to decline over the next 20 years. Longer term gas supplies for east coast Australia are being supplemented by new supplies from the CSG discoveries. Although policy makers are focusing on moving the CSG to the east coast for export as LNG, pipelines are now linking CSG production to the eastern Australian gas transmission system.

Author: The Australian Pipeline Industry Association

The Australian Pipeline Industry Association is the peak body representing the gas transmission industry. While the membership of APIA has a strong focus on the gas industry, some members transport oil and slurry and other liquids. Also, the transportation of water via pipeline is becoming a major industry in Australia, the driest inhabited continent on earth. APIA works with the industry and in dialogue with governments to ensure the interests of the industry and the nation are appropriately considered in the policy formation process.

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