Surprise plans for a gas pipeline to connect Beetaloo to Darwin | Katherine Times | Katherine, NT

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Surprise plans for a gas pipeline to connect Beetaloo to Darwin

The Northern Gas Pipeline between Tennant Creek and Mount Isa was opened in 2018. Picture: North West Star, Mount Isa.

Details of a pipeline to bring onshore gas from the Beetaloo Basin to Darwin were disclosed today.

For many, the proposed pipeline is the missing piece of the puzzle needed for the establishment of an onshore gas industry in the NT.

The NT Government has advertised a tender, made public by the Lock the Gate Alliance today, for a pre-feasibility study for a pipeline “corridor” from Tennant Creek to Darwin.

The 100-metre wide corridor of the pipeline is proposed to closely follow the Stuart Highway and through Katherine and Pine Creek to reach Darwin.

Another gas pipeline between Tennant Creek and Mount Isa, a distance of 622km, was opened by Jemena in 2018.

At the time, then Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said the $800 million pipeline linked NT’s Amadeus Gas Pipeline to Queensland’s Carpentaria Gas Pipeline.

With this latest move the Northern Gas Pipeline could be use to send any gas extracted by fracking from the Beetaloo Basin west to Tennant Creek and through this new pipeline to Darwin for either processing or direct export.

Several companies. Origin Energy and Santos chief among them, are well advanced on their exploration of shale gas in the Beetaloo since the NT Government dropped a moratorium against the industry in April 2018.

Most experts believe there are huge reservoirs of gas which could be unlocked by fracking in the Beetaloo but the costs of extracting the gas from deep underground and sending it to the east coast could have made the industry unviable.

A proposed route of the gas pipeline takes it through Katherine. Map: NT Government.

The closing date for tenders for this pre-feasibility study is tomorrow.

One of the jobs proposed for the consultants is to consider landowner arrangements where the pipeline is to be laid north to Darwin.

“This is aimed to provide clarity to the Gas Taskforce and Government for future decisions regarding acquisition of a corridor to transport gas from on shore reserves to existing and planned gas industry infrastructure,” tender documents state.

The pipeline would transport gas and/or liquids.

The consultants would need to “conduct and record initial landowner discussions with regard to the position of the corridor within their property”.

Lock the Gate Alliance said maps released with the tender show the pipeline would travel from Tennant Creek to a gas hub near Darwin where it could then be exported to Asian countries.

Arid Lands Environment Centre director Jimmy Cocking said it was a disturbing revelation at a time when gas fracking companies were indefinitely putting their operations in the NT on hold.

“It’s bad enough the NT Government would spend public money propping up the fracking industry,” he said.

Dan Robins from Protect Country Alliance in Darwin said it made no sense to be supporting an economically unviable industry.

“There is no sound reason for public money to be spent on gas infrastructure even when economic times are good, but to do so now is simply lunacy.

The NT Government has been approached today for comment.

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