Subject: AU: Woodside backs $1b pipeline

The Australian

July 17, 2003 Thursday All-round Country Edition

Woodside backs $1b pipeline

Nigel Wilson * National energy writer

WOODSIDE is backing a $1 billion trans-Australia gas pipeline linking North West Shelf gas reserves to eastern states markets.

Preliminary investigations by the West Australian Government suggest a transmission pipeline from Dampier to Moomba in South Australia could be built for about 20 per cent more than a Darwin-Moomba link.

Moomba is the main hub for gas delivered in Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide and it can be used to switch gas into Melbourne.

Woodside director of commercial gas David Maxwell told a Sydney conference yesterday the pipeline could be built within the next decade to link the NW Shelf, where 90 per cent of Australia's known gas reserves lie, and major domestic markets.

"While not viable today, a gas pipeline from the north-west to the south-east is potentially viable by the middle of the next decade," Mr Maxwell told the Australian Resources and Energy 2003 conference.

A number of commentators have pointed out that there is no sovereign risk with North West Shelf gas reserves, compared with those in the Timor Sea or Papua New Guinea.

"I would contest, from an Australian point of view, this (the trans-national pipeline) is a much better solution for the longer term requirements for the south and east of Australia than pipelines from anywhere else," Mr Maxwell said.

In his speech, Environment Minister David Kemp said the federal Government would not abandon the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target as recommended by last year's Parer review into the electricity market.

"The Government is committed to increasing the uptake of renewable energy as a key means of meeting Australia's future energy needs without adding to greenhouse gas emissions," Dr Kemp said.

The oil and gas industry lobby, the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, used the conference to warn the state governments against unilaterally adopting greenhouse gas emission strategies in a bid to meet Kyoto Protocol targets.

Meanwhile, East Timor is using the recently signed agreement controlling the development of the Greater Sunrise gas reservoirs as a lever to prod Australia into negotiations on a new maritime boundary.

Australia is moving to give parliamentary ratification to the so-called international unitisation agreement -- detailing the division of wealth from the Timor Sea fields -- within months, but East Timor is holding out. Prime Minister Mari Alkateri has warned Canberra that his Government will delay ratification until Australia accepts boundary negotiations.

It is understood that officials from Greater Sunrise partner Woodside travelled to Dili recently to impress on East Timor officials the significance of ratification in both countries to the successful marketing of Sunrise gas.

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