Energy giant Santos has acquired a company which has plans for a gas pipeline near its controversial Narrabri Gas Project.
- Santos says the project could supply up to half of NSW’s gas needs
- It says new supply in southern domestic markets will put downward pressure on gas prices
- Construction of the pipeline is expected to start in 2024
Hunter Gas Pipeline has planning approval for a pipeline from the Wallumbilla Gas Hub in southern Queensland to Newcastle, via Narrabri.
Santos said the pipeline provided a way for the company to deliver its gas to the domestic market, provided planning authorities approved a short connection.
Santos midstream and clean fuels president Brett Woods said the company expected construction of the pipeline would begin in 2024.
“Acquiring the Hunter Gas Pipeline route is an important step for the Narrabri project,” Mr Woods said.
“Our Narrabri project … will inject new supply into southern domestic markets and put downward pressure on gas prices.”
The company claims the Narrabri project, which was approved by state and federal authorities in 2020, could supply up to half of New South Wales’s gas needs.
A route for the Hunter Gas Pipeline has not been finalised, but has been narrowed down to a 200-metre wide corridor.
Quirindi landholder Peter Wills, who has campaigned against construction of the pipeline for several years, said there was limited dialogue with the prior owner, since the pipeline was first approved in 2009.
“All the landholders are in the dark. They’ve not had any contact,” Mr Wills said.
“That’s not consultation.”
Meg Bowman, from the Hunter Gas Landholder Rights Alliance, said her group would continue to advocate for specific improvements.
“It should go down highway and expressway corridors or the rail corridor,” she said.
“That would alleviate the imposition on landholders’ private property.”
Santos has left open the possibility of changing the route to assuage landholder concerns.
“There is room to make further improvements as needed,” Mr Woods said.
Construction on the pipeline must commence by October 2024 to avoid its approval lapsing.
Mr Wills said if Santos intends to build the pipeline, landholder consultation must improve urgently.
“Santos is really on the clock here with two years to go.
Sale price kept secret
Hunter Gas Pipeline Managing Director Garbis Simonian said the sale would fast track gas being piped to the domestic market.
“Santos are the ones that can bring gas to market the fastest because they have a gas field and they have experience in the construction of gas pipelines,” he said.
“It was our belief that the best outcome for New South Wales was to do this sale.”
The final cost of the project will be more than one billion dollars, with stage one previously valued at $700 million.
But he would not disclose the sale price.
“I am not at liberty to say that but all I can say is that we’re happy and we have structured a deal where we are sort of partnering with them, all of our shareholders are happy and that is the main thing,” he said.