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    Carbon trading scheme to send gas use soaring
    Matt Chambers

    From: The Australian
    December 17, 2009 12:00AM

    DEMAND for gas in the eastern states and South Australia is expected to grow fourfold over the next 20 years, as Queensland export projects start and the Rudd government's emissions trading scheme drives gas-powered electricity generation at the expense of coal-fired power.

    The growth will mean that Queensland will exceed its existing gas pipeline capacity by 2013, NSW in 2012 and Victoria between 2012 and 2015.

    According to a report to be released today by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), annual gas demand from the five states will jump from 626 petajoules this year to 2507PJ in the next 20 years.

    Putting aside Queensland's expected liquefied natural gas export demand of 1302PJ a year, the eastern states' annual domestic demand is forecast to double to 1205PJ, helped by a rise in gas-fired power generation, AEMO says in its inaugural annual report on the gas and electricity transmission markets.

    The report comes two days after oil giant ExxonMobil made a $US41 billion ($45.6bn) takeover of the biggest US gas producer, XTO Energy, partly because carbon restrictions will boost gas demand there.

    AMEO was formed in July as an umbrella operation to oversee the national electricity market and wholesale and retail gas transmission in the eastern states.

    According to AMEO, up to 6000MW of coal-fired capacity (equivalent to about four of Victoria's Hazelwood power stations) will be retired by 2029.

    On the electricity transmission side, AMEO says the government's Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme and recently legislated Renewable Energy Target will alter the power generation mix and require about $440 million worth of upgrades to transmission systems.

    A $301m extension to the central NSW coal network and a $120m upgrade of the interconnector between Queensland and NSW make up most of the work.

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