Trans-Australian $6b gas pipeline gets fresh legs

Trans-Australian $6b gas pipeline gets fresh legs

The idea of a $6 billion pipeline linking large gas fields off Western Australia to the east coast has got a new lease of life under the Neville Power-led COVID Coordination Commission with the aim of reviving gas-based manufacturing despite serious doubts about its economics.

The trans-continental pipeline, which was found to be unviable two years ago, is among options being considered by the Commission as it works up recommendations to be put to the Morrison government, according to sources.

A potential trans-Australian pipeline is back on the table thanks to the COVID Coordination Commission. James Davies

Several members of the Commission for its manufacturing taskforce have previously spoken in favour of such a pipeline, including Mr Power himself, special adviser Andrew Liveris and manufacturing taskforce member Daniel Walton, national secretary of the Australian Workers’ Union.

Mr Power, the former Fortescue Metals Group chief executive, last September described a West-East pipeline as “a permanent and low-cost long-term solution”, allowing businesses to tap into the line all the way across Australia. He is also on the board of Strike Energy, a junior gasfield developer that is seeking to develop the large West Erregulla find north of Perth.

Some manufacturers such as Qenos and Dow Chemical are also keen to see a West-East pipeline further explored, believing that the alternative of LNG imports will be unaffordable for their operations. The pipeline could run from the West coast to Moomba in South Australia’s north, from where the existing gas grid would be used to deliver fuel to manufacturers in NSW and Victoria.

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