Northern Gas Pipeline developer Jemena has welcomed the Northern Territory Government’s decision to lift the moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, saying it will now press ahead with a multibillion-dollar extension project.
The decision on ‘fracking’ followed an 18-month inquiry which found the risks associated with unconventional gas development could be mitigated to acceptable levels or removed entirely.
Jemena said it intended to progress its plans to extend and expand the $800 million Northern Gas Pipeline (NGP).
This work is expected to create around 4000 jobs across northern Australia, with early estimates placing the cost of the project at around $3 – $4 billion.
Jemena managing director Paul Adams said the Territory Government’s decision was good news for locals who could expect to benefit from additional jobs and training opportunities in the gas industry, as well as Territory businesses who would benefit directly from contracts on upcoming projects.
“This decision now gives us the certainty we need to move forward, and we encourage the Territory Government to maintain pace and move to swiftly implement the inquiry’s recommendations,” he said.
“Provided sufficient and appropriate gas is proven and will be available for transportation, our ambition is to commence preliminary works on the extension and expansion of the Northern Gas Pipeline in 2019.”
Mr Adams said the NGP would be completed in late 2018.
It will initially transport around 90 terajoules of gas, with the extension and expansion of the Northern Gas Pipeline having the potential to bring around 700 terajoules of gas – enough gas to meet the average daily domestic gas needs of Brisbane, Sydney, and Adelaide – to market.
Santos is also keen to resume onshore gas exploration in the NT.
“Territory businesses, contractors and workers are counting on the quick ramp-up of the onshore gas industry to get the Territory moving again,” Santos chief executive officer and managing director Kevin Gallagher said .
“As soon we can get back to work, we will employ local people, engage local companies and resume royalty payments to host Traditional Owners.
“Santos does not want to let them down and we will be ready to go in the 2019 dry season.”
Mr Gallagher said that with exploration and appraisal success, the NT’s McArthur Basin had the potential to do for the NT and Australia what the shale gas revolution had done for America.
“Opening up access to this clean energy resource in the Territory is a great outcome for national energy security, potentially attracting new energy-intensive industries to Darwin and supporting new and expanded pipelines connecting to the east coast domestic gas market,” Mr Gallagher said.
“There is a window of opportunity to also grow LNG exports as global supply gaps open up in the early to mid-2020s.
“Implementing the conditions for onshore gas exploration by the end of 2018 and getting the regulatory framework in place to allow onshore gas development by 2021 is vitally important to deliver a viable onshore gas industry as well as the desperately-needed economic and social benefits Territorians are counting on.”