The Queensland Government is pushing for Commonwealth backing for a raft of initiatives, including new gas pipelines, to tackle the looming east coast gas shortage.
Natural Resources and Minister Dr Anthony Lynham put a package offer to his Federal counterpart Senator Matt Canavan, offering Queensland’s gas resources for Federal support.
“Urgent action is required to increase domestic gas supply to protect industry and to secure jobs,” Dr Lynham said.
“Queensland is already ahead of the pace with the measures we have under way, including land on offer where the gas will be for sale in Australia only.
“We are looking at further and larger land releases in the Surat Basin with the same Australian market conditions.
“There is a lot more that can be done, and we believe those actions should be funded by the Commonwealth in the national interest.”
Dr Lynham said he had sought an urgent meeting with Senator Canavan to discuss the Queensland proposals, including:
- a jointly funded study into infrastructure options and
- guaranteed funding, possibly from the North Australia Infrastructure Facility, for any viable options – like new pipelines – that will deliver gas to the Australian market.
“Access to new pipelines would make all the difference in opening up new potential gas producing areas like the Bowen and Galilee Basins,” he said.
Queensland Resources Council chief executive Ian Macfarlane backed the move, saying Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) funding for gas pipelines was a good idea to release stranded gas.
“Once again Queensland is leading the way in securing the energy security of Australia,” he said.
Senator Canavan said he would be happy to meet with the Queensland Government to discuss its proposals.
If the Queensland Government had a proposal for the NAIF, it should submit an application for a concessional loan to the independent, expert board, he said.
“Ensuring affordable and reliable energy for Australian users is a priority of the Turnbull-Joyce Government,” Senator Canavan said.
“In recent weeks, the Federal Government has met with gas company CEOs, gas suppliers, the pipeline industry and gas users to put in place a range of methods to get more gas to the market. We will be meeting again this week.
“Queensland is leading the way in terms of the development of its gas industry, going back more than a decade, and we’d like to see that continue. But other states shouldn’t expect development in Queensland can cover for the fact that the industry has stalled in their states.
“The onus is on all states to develop their own gas reserves – in their own interests and in the interests of Australian industry jobs.
“One of the best ways Queensland could fast track that development would be to encourage its Labor colleagues in others states and territories – including Victoria and the Northern Territory – to draw on the Queensland experience to develop their own gas.”
Dr Lynham said addressing groundwater management would also support further gas production, because a key concern of landholders was the impact of gas extraction on groundwater.
“Queensland has managed groundwater concerns with an Office of Groundwater Impact Assessment and the development of a basin-wide cumulative groundwater model and monitoring program,” he said.
“Developing more basin-wide water models would generate the landholder confidence we need to widen gas production into other prospective areas of the state.”
Dr Lynham also called for the Commonwealth to continue funding the Great Artesian Basin Sustainability Initiative (GABSI), which subsidises the rehabilitation of water-wasting uncontrolled flowing bores.