Science to assist NSW onshore gas

The Moomba to Sydney pipeline's Uranquinty Power Station connection in Wagga Wagga, NSW.

The Moomba to Sydney pipeline's Uranquinty Power Station connection in Wagga Wagga, NSW.

The Australian Pipelines and Gas Association has welcomed the federal government’s funding announcement for further gas research, citing a need to increase state-wide supply of the resource.

The federal government yesterday confirmed $3 million in funding would be granted to the CSIRO and industry to enhance research into onshore gas primarily in New South Wales.

According to Industry and Sciences Minister Ian Macfarlane the funding will assist CSIRO extend the Gas Industry Social Environmental Research Alliance (GISERA) to focus on the benefits and risks of gas development in NSW.

GISERA, which has been operating in Queensland since 2011, is charged with helping NSW communities to assess the benefits, feasibility and development of onshore gas based on scientific information relevant to each community’s concerns.

APGA Chief Executive Cheryl Cartwright welcomed the announcement and said further delay in establishing NSW onshore gas reserves will threaten the state’s supply.

“While significant scientific studies, including by the NSW Chief Scientist, have found that developing gas reserves in NSW can be undertaken safely in a clear legislative framework with high engineering standards, this new work by the CSIRO should further improve knowledge and understanding,” she said.

“We must hope that this is the last delay in the development of Australia’s gas reserves as NSW needs to begin increasing its own gas supply to help counter the expected supply shortage as gas exports expand.”

NSW imports 95 per cent of its gas and with the export market for the commodity strengthening, that figure is only expected to continue to rise.

This, according to the Grattan Institute’s analysis of Australia’s gas needs in 2014, leaves NSW exposed to east coast supply constraints.

The institute lists a number of potential solutions to NSW gas supply issues, including the urgent resolution of the impasse on coal seam gas development.

“Science is at the centre of Australian industry policy, and it’s fundamental to the continued development of our major economic sectors,” Minister Macfarlane said.

“The issues associated with the gas industry are complex and sensitive. It is important to understand the regional impacts of gas development based on local data and characteristics.

“GISERA will ensure that debate on the establishment of coal seam gas in New South Wales is based on science and facts, not misconceptions.”

When asked whether the research undertaken in NSW could improve Victoria’s chances of developing an onshore gas market, spokeswoman for the Industry and Sciences Minister, Kylie Barron said more research is always helpful.

“The regulatory environment in Victoria is a matter for the Victorian Government.  However, expanding the body of research relating to the onshore gas industry will mean all decision makers have access to an even wider range of scientific research and data as they make decisions about the development of the CSG industry,” she told Gas Today.

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