Pipelines have already been stockpiled for the construction of the NGP. All Images: Jemena.
By Cameron Drummond
THE Northern Gas Pipeline (NGP) will span 622 kilometres through Northern Australia, from the Amadeus pipeline in the west to the Carpentaria pipeline in the east, to connect the NT’s vast gas fields to the east coast market.
“Building [the pipeline] will drive commercial exploration and development of currently untapped gas reserves, unlocking the next phase of economic growth for the Territory and helping build a stronger Northern Australia,” Jemena managing director Paul Adams said.
“The pipeline is cost-effective and relatively quick to build, so it will support a strong gas industry for the Territory by getting gas to market at a competitive price, accelerating development of NT gas fields and helping create jobs and opportunities in the gas industry.
“As further reserves in the NT are proved up, we can expand our scalable pipeline to meet strong demand from east coast customers.”
Mr Adams said routing the pipeline to Mt Isa was the most efficient way to get gas to the east coast, as it reduced potential construction risks and required lower volumes of gas to be contracted to be viable.
“Going south just wouldn’t have provided the same catalyst to fast track development of the NT’s gas fields,” he said.
Jemena currently owns and operates energy transportation infrastructure across eastern and northern Australia, including the Queensland Gas Pipeline (QGP), which delivers gas to the industrial hubs of Gladstone and Rockhampton, the Eastern Gas Pipeline (EGP), which provides more than half of the gas used in NSW from Bass Strait, and the NSW gas distribution network.
Leaving a Legacy
The construction of the NGP is a boon for Territory communities, with Jemena offering a commitment to providing about two-thirds of the project’s employment opportunities from within the region.
Jemena NGP project director Jonathan Spink said out of the 900 jobs needed for the project, 600 are expected to be filled by people from the Barkly and Mt Isa regions – as well as the broader NT community – offering up to 100 contracts worth $112m to local businesses.
“During the bid we did a lot of work making sure that we understood the capacity and capability in the region,” Mr Spink said.
“We opened a line of communication with relevant NT Government departments which helped us determine the scope of what jobs and skills from the local communities would be able to support the project.
“We are comfortable that these are real and achievable targets based on the capabilities within the regions.”
Jemena has also set up a Project Ready Training Program that will be able to provide people with little or no construction experience the chance to undertake training so they can transition directly to a job on the project, with 60 trainees already on the books.
“We have had great support from the Aboriginal traditional land owners along the pipeline route for the employment and training opportunities the NGP will bring to the region,” Mr Spink said.
“We are undertaking a social employment project in Tennant Creek; where people facing significant barriers to employment will be able to contribute to the production and supply of 50,000 timber pipe skids, as well as 80,000 sand and saw dust bags.”
Mr Spink said Jemena was dedicated to making sure it left an ongoing legacy of skilled workers behind after the completion of the pipeline.
“We want to provide the necessary skills and training to our workers, so that after the nine month construction period there are career options for the workers when they come out of this project.”
Mr Spink said that after the pipeline was finished there would be about 10 permanent operation and maintenance positions to be sourced from the region.
With construction due to commence in April, Jemena has been busy “getting all its ducks in a row”; progressing regulatory approvals, stockpiling pipe and sourcing its project workforce.
“The start date for construction is subject to securing all the land and environmental approvals, and at this stage everything is tracking towards our April start date,” Mr Spink said.
The NGP will have the same commonalities as the EGP and QGP, enabling an efficient and reliable transition for future expansion plans.
“For Jemena it’s all about consistency with our assets. It’s important to us that our assets all look and smell the same, which drives efficiency and compatibility between our networks.”
Mr Spink said the company was well on track to meet its project objectives and expected that everything should be operational by mid to late 2018.
About 600 jobs will be sourced locally during the construction of the project.
In recent months, blackouts in South Australia and energy supply issues had thrust Australia’s energy security into the spotlight.
In response, Federal and State ministers gathered at an emergency COAG Energy Council meeting in mid December to address the concerns.
A top priority at the meeting was chief scientist Dr Alan Finkel’s Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market report, which called for additional measures to strengthen National Electricity Market (NEM) supply.
Around the same time the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) released a string of documents that also highlighted Australia’s need for additional gas supply.
Mr Spink said Jemena was looking forward to seeing progress on tackling Australia’s gas supply issues and would welcome positive changes that provided a cleaner, more stable distribution of energy to the grid.
“We are doing our bit to reduce the carbon footprint in Australia, as gas offers about half the carbon intensity of coal, making a compelling case for gas as a reliable, sustainable and economic part of our future energy mix,” he said.
“Gas is a good partner fuel for all the coming in intermittent power sources such as wind and solar, and Jemena fully supports a robust national energy policy.
“The work that Dr Alan Finkel is doing it is vital to addressing the issues faced by the energy sector.”
Mr Spink said he also hoped to see more gas reserve exploration in the NT and for Jemena to able expand the NGP through to QLD’s Wallumbilla Gas Supply Hub in the next few years as it would vastly improve the reliability of the gas transmission network.
“With a gas shortage in the Eastern States looming, we hope that the NGP is the main infrastructure used to bolster that shortage.”