All images: Jemena.
BY ELIZABETH FABRI
IN less than a year first gas will flow at Jemena’s $800 million Northern Gas Pipeline at an opportune time for the industry as domestic supply shortage fears continue.
Construction of the 622km Northern Gas Pipeline connecting the Northern Territory’s gas fields to QLD end users is fast advancing.
Beginning in 2017, the development program has been relatively smooth sailing, despite a land access dispute between the Wakaya traditional land owners and the Northern and Central Land Councils that pushed the project start date from April to July.
But challenges were always foreseen when planning a project of this scale, Jemena Northern Gas Pipeline project director Jonathan Spink told The Australian Energy Review.
“We knew when we submitted our bid that the schedule was aggressive and securing approvals across so many jurisdictions would be a challenge,” Mr Spink said.
“We never expected it to be easy as we realised we had a diverse range of stakeholders to work with.
“As a result of all of the hard work, and the considerable support from project stakeholders, we secured all the requisite approvals, without impacting on the overall project timeframe.”
As of December 2017, all of the line pipe had been delivered; construction had begun on the Tennant Creek and Mount Isa compressor stations; and 403km of the pipeline welding (262km in the Northern Territory and 141km in QLD) had been completed ahead of schedule.
Welding of the pipeline is completed by hand and later inspected using x-ray radiography to ensure the work complies with the Australian standards.
Once complete, the pipeline will play a crucial role in driving the exploration and development of untapped gas resources in the Northern Territory and relieve domestic shortages on the east coast of Australia.
Construction resumed after a brief break over Christmas.
“Work has recommenced on the Phillip Creek Compressor Station (PCCS) and, in QLD, on the Mount Isa Compressor Station (MICS) and pipeline,” Mr Spink said.
“At the Phillip Creek Compressor Station, Jemena has overseen the completion of engineering and design activities, as well as the procurement and delivery of major equipment and materials.
“With construction contractor Civmec, works are well underway on the civil and structural, mechanical, piping, electrical and instrumentation (SMPEI) elements of the project.
“In QLD, Jemena has engaged Valmec to perform the concreting and civil works scope at the Mount Isa Compressor Station.
“Valmec was also awarded the remaining SMPEI construction works which have now commenced.”
Mr Spink said construction will continue into the second half of 2018 with commissioning to follow in late 2018.
“The Northern Gas Pipeline is underpinned by existing offshore gas sources, with all gas that is currently contracted across the pipeline coming from the Blacktip Gas Field off the coast of the Northern Territory,” he said.
Jemena has continued to evaluate growth options for the NGP.
The company currently had its sights set on a potential expansion and extension of the pipeline to the Wallumbilla Gas Hub in QLD, to deliver more than 700 TJ of gas per day to the east-coast market.
“Jemena is keen to scale up the NGP and extend it further east to link in with the Wallumbilla gas hub, in Queensland, freeing up large amounts of gas to flow to gas consumers across eastern Australia,” Mr Spink said.
The extension could help bring currently undeveloped gas reserves in QLD’s Galilee Basin to the market too.
Further ahead, the pipeline was also hoped to encourage future investment in onshore gas projects across the Northern Territory.
This was of course subject to whether the Territory lifts its ban on hydraulic fracking, but a recent inquiry into Northern Territory fracking looked promising.
In December 2017, a draft report was released containing 120 recommendations which it claimed must be met in full to reduce risks associated with fracking “to an acceptable level”.
APPEA Northern Territory director Matthew Doman said the draft report confirmed that shale gas development would have significant economic and employment benefits for the Territory, and had debunked myths spread by activists that oppose onshore gas development.
“Gas companies stand ready to invest billions of dollars in new projects in the Territory if the industry is allowed to resume exploration activity,” Mr Doman said.
“There is no reason the Territory cannot manage the safe, sustainable development of its considerable natural gas resources.”
The Northern Territory Government was expected to make a decision on whether to lift a moratorium on fracking when the final report is released.
Mr Spink said the inquiry into hydraulic fracturing to date “has been a robust and independent process”.
“The final draft report highlights the very real economic and broader community benefits that will stem from the development of an onshore gas industry in the Territory,” he said.
“Jemena supports the Inquiry’s finding that the risk associated with an onshore gas industry can be safely managed by a balanced regulatory regime, while delivering these benefits to Territorians.
“We look forward to the release of the Final Report in March.”