Strength, integrity and resilience – building the Atlas Gas Pipeline

Building the Atlas gas pipeline
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Natural gas is used daily in Australian homes, businesses and institutions, for a variety of applications  including temperature control, hot water and cooking. With almost five million homes and businesses connected to gas1, providing the energy source quickly and effectively to communities is a priority.

The Atlas Gas Pipeline (Atlas) is a joint project between Senex Energy and Jemena, and is Queensland’s first domestic-only gas supply. The project is part of the Queensland Government’s first domestic gas acreage tender, an initiative to increase the supply of gas on the east coast and ensure energy security.

The pipeline, which Jemena will build, own and operate, will be 60km long and coated in eight inch steel. The gas processing facility and pipeline will then connect the facility to the existing Senex Darling Downs Pipeline, which runs to the Wallumbilla hub.

Jemena awarded international oil and gas infrastructure contractor Spiecapag Australia a $20 million contract to construct the Atlas Gas Pipeline. The contract for the construction of the Atlas Compressor Station has been awarded to Australian energy and infrastructure services group Valmec. Construction is currently underway and commissioning of the project is expected by the end of 2019. 

The pipeline was given the Greek name of ‘Atlas’ which means strength, integrity and resilience. Senex intended the project to represent these characteristics, strengthening the domestic energy supply and delivering the product with integrity and resilience.

Supporting local manufacturers

Project Atlas currently has three domestic sales contracts to supply local manufacturers with gas. Atlas will supply south-east Queensland manufacturer CSR with up to 3.25PJ of gas to be used to make bricks, plasterboard and insulation over a three-year period. 

Orora Limited, another Queensland manufacturer, also has a domestic sales agreement with Atlas for 1.1PJ over a two-year period. The agreement has the possibility to extend over six years to supply 6.6PJ to support the manufacturing of cardboard, glass, and aluminium.

In June, Atlas signed a third sales agreement with Brisbane-based glass packaging manufacturer O-I Australia. Atlas will supply 10.5PJ of natural glass over five years.

A worthwhile investment

Jemena will invest around $140 million to construct Atlas, which is expected to create around 150 to 200 jobs in Queensland. 

Jemena Executive General Manager of Gas Markets, Antoon Boey, said “We are acutely aware that Australia faces a gas supply crisis and Jemena is investing heavily in new gas transmission infrastructure to bring new gas supplies into the market.

“Moving gas from where it is produced to the markets where it is needed at the lowest possible cost and doing so safely and reliably is of utmost importance to Jemena.”

Senex’s Managing Director and CEO, Ian Davies, said that the investment will not only create new jobs and support the local economy in the Western Downs region, but will result in generating royalties and benefits beyond the region and the state.

The voice of the oil and gas industry, the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA), warmly welcomed the pipeline and domestic gas contracts.

APPEA Chief Executive, Andrew McConville, said that the project and supply contracts highlights critical importance of developing new gas resources and the response the oil and gas industry is taking to accelerate the delivery of new supply.

“Queensland has taken a proactive approach to gas development which has delivered significant new supply to its homes and businesses, as well to many manufacturers in southern states, whose governments have put a brake on gas production,” Mr McConville said.

The future of gas 

The beginning of construction of the Atlas gas pipeline marks an important milestone in the domestic gas industry. It will hopefully encourage other energy companies and oil and gas explorers to embark on their own domestic gas projects, ensuring a secure and lucrative gas supply for generations to come. 

1 https://www.apga.org.au/living-pipelines

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