“To give an example, a pipeline was recently sold in Queensland. The level of knowledge and information provided to landholders about the new owner was quite poor, and that had significant implications for those landholders who had the pipeline traversing their properties.”
Mr Cotter said that the new owner is now working with the Gas Fields Commission to address the situation and to build relationships with landholders.
He said that if one looks at Texas in the US, Australia has a long way to go in building the sort of extensive pipeline network that exists there, and so the industry and the community needs to be in a good space to be able to do that.
“It’s also not just about communication, but it’s about relationship building and effective engagement. We live and breathe engagement, and in Queensland we have tried to create an environment to encourage that meaningful engagement to happen.
“I take great pride in saying that we have changed the culture, not only in the onshore gas industry but in the way a whole range of other subsidiaries and authorities interact with landholders to get the best win-win result.”
Mr Cotter said that the bottom line for the pipeline industry is that there are enormous economic gains to be had by getting communication and engagement with landholders right in the first place.
“[The Commission] analysed issues like fencing the pipeline easement, and the upfront cost of that compared with the remedial costs and the angst and time consumed in dealing with issues on unfenced easements.