trans aust. gas pipeline

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    By Darrin Barnett
    SYDNEY, July 16 AAP - A trans-Australian gas pipeline could be
    viable by 2015 but would need the assistance of both government and
    private enterprise, an industry leader said today.
    Woodside Petroleum Ltd Gas Business Unit director David Maxwell
    said his company believed demand would outstrip supply in the south
    and east of Australia from around 2014, potentially driving prices
    up.
    As such, a liquefied natural gas (LNG) pipeline from the
    country's north-west could become a realistic proposition "by the
    middle of the next decade" due to the increasing demand, he said.
    "I would contest, from an Australian point of view, that this is
    a much better solution to the longer term requirements of the south
    and east of Australia than pipelines from anywhere else," Mr
    Maxwell said.
    "Why? Because you have got access to a much bigger resource.
    "Therefore you've got much greater long term security, the
    opportunity to grow competition, and the term and duration required
    for some of the significant investments needed to support the
    economics."
    Mr Maxwell said that while the finer points, such as the
    diameter of the pipeline, would need to be worked out going
    forward, it was a project that definitely needed assistance from
    government.
    "A pipeline crossing Australia is a national project which must
    therefore be driven by the federal government in cooperation with
    the state governments," he said.
    "I think suppliers and customers have a big role to play in that
    as well (but) I don't think it's something that can exist without
    changes to legislation.
    "At this point it is important that we start to think about
    getting the furniture right, and the policy sequence right, to
    enable those discussions to occur.
    "Logically, when one stands back and looks at supply/demand,
    it's the right thing to happen."
    Other issues such as who would pay for the additional capacity
    before a buyer was found would also need to be sorted out, he said.
    Mr Maxwell said Woodside's construction of the fourth train on
    its North-West shelf project was on track despite some current
    industrial hiccups.
    "That's on schedule to start up in June next year with a 50 per
    cent increase in the LNG capacity of the north-west shelf and
    doubling the pipeline transport capacity from the offshore
    platforms to the plant," he said.
    "Train five is now being evaluated and watch this space at the
    back end of this year (for an announcement)."
    Mr Maxwell was addressing the Australian Resources and Energy
    National Conference in Sydney.
    Woodside shares closed today down five cents at $12.94.

 
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