The actual amount of gas in the Northern Territory, Australia, might not be known yet, but a new project to construct a pipeline connecting the Northern Territory to Queensland has already been announced, with the Asian conglomerate Jemena emerging as the preferred bidder.
The 622-kilometre pipeline is said to be the key to the development of natural gas exploration in the Northern Territory, which is estimated to hold 200 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of gas in onshore basins. The pipeline project, known as the North East Gas Interconnector (NEGI), will link the Northern Territory’s Amadeus pipeline to Queensland’s Carpentaria pipeline between Tennant Creek and Mount Isa.
Jemena managing director Paul Adams said gas delivered by the pipeline would “drive growth, prosperity and future opportunities for the Territory well into the future”.
“Our vision for the NEGI is to drive commercial exploration and development of currently untapped gas reserves, unlocking the next phase of economic growth for the Territory and help build a stronger northern Australia,” Mr Adams said.
“The sustainable development of these immense natural resources will drive growth, prosperity and future opportunities for the Territory well into the future.”
According to the Shale Gas in Australia website, Australia could have more than 1000 trillion cubic feet (tcf) in recoverable shale gas, if a report by the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) from 2013 is to be believed. The parts of Australia most likely to hold commercial shale gas deposits are in: Northern South Australia, Western Australia, The Northern Territory, and Western Queensland. Having said that, the Independent Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the Northern Territory, run by Commissioner Allan Hawke, said it was not yet known if the NT had commercial quantities of shale gas that could be exploited.
The NEGI project – which expected to deliver up to 900 direct jobs during its construction and around 30 jobs once operational in 2018 – has a firm support of Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who said: “This is a coup for Queensland for the jobs and opportunities it will create for local suppliers, as well as the potentially cheaper energy it will supply to the north-west resources projects.”
Not everybody is as complementary of the project as Ms Palaszczuk. South Australian Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy, Tom Koutsantonis, whose state was overlooked as the site for the pipeline to connect to, was scathing of the decision.
“It really is a bureaucratic decision,” Mr Koutsantonis said.
“It is the type of pipeline system public servants would design rather than engineers and people who are actually trying to get value for money for consumers, so quite frankly it is a very bad outcome for the nation,” he said, pointing out that under current arrangement the gas would have to be pumped to Mount Isa, before being sent down to be processed in Moomba in SA, and then transported to the east coast market.
Predictably, there has also been opposition to the pipeline from some of the grass-root groups opposing shale development in the Northern Territory.
“We’ve got family right through the pipeline area and up through the NT Gulf country, all who are going to be affected when this pipeline drives dangerous fracking gas fields across the Territory,” Gadrian Hoosan, from the Indigenous Garawa Land Trust, said.
Naomi Hogan, of the anti-fracking alliance Lock the Gate, said the pipeline was “nothing but a gas giveaway to wealthy overseas companies that want to frack our land and send our gas offshore”.
“Fracked gas is expensive, risky and facing increasing scrutiny and bans across Australia and the world. The construction of this pipeline is far from guaranteed, with high levels of community opposition to gas field fracking and an NT election looming,” she said.
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