PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The federal government this week announced A$58.6-million of new measures to advance its gas-fired recovery in a post-Covid-19 economy.
Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor on Friday said that through the 2021/22 Budget, the government is building on the progress already made to drive Australia’s gas-fired recovery.
The new measures announced on Friday include a A$38.7-million investment for targeted support of critical gas infrastructure projects to alleviate the forecast gas supply shortfall, as well as A$3.5-million to design and implement the Future Gas Infrastructure Investment Framework to support the Commonwealth’s consideration of medium- to long-term critical gas projects identified by future National Gas Infrastructure Plans (NGIP).
A further A$5.6-million will go to strengthen the government’s energy system planning framework by delivering a further NGIP in 2022, and A$4.6-million towards developing initiatives that empower gas-reliant businesses to negotiate competitive contract outcomes, including developing a voluntary standardised contract framework.
The government will also invest A$6.2-million to continue work to accelerate the development of the Wallumbilla Gas Supply Hub in Queensland.
Furthermore, the NGIP interim report will also be released, and will focus on the gas supply shortfall forecast for this decade. The interim NGIP provides a blueprint of infrastructure requirements for Australia’s east coast gas market to 2027 and identifies four critical infrastructure projects that are required to progress so the shortfall is not realised, including two gas storage projects at Golden Beach and Iona, in Victoria, the expansion of the South West Victorian pipeline, and an import terminal project, with the Port Kembla project considered the most advanced.
Taylor said that the government’s A$38.7-million of targeted support will accelerate these projects to final investment decisions and mitigate the risk of commencement delays to help alleviate the shortfall.
This measure also includes A$5-million to work with the Queensland government to deliver a pipeline prefeasibility study for the North Bowen basin.
This will support the implementation of the North Bowen and Galilee Strategic Basin Plan, currently being finalised by the Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia.
Taylor said additional gas supply must be supplied to consumers at the right price, with infrastructure being key to delivery.
“Gas is a critical enabler of Australia’s economy and helps to support our manufacturing sector that employs over 900 000 Australians. Our interim NGIP demonstrates the importance of infrastructure to overcoming the forecast gas shortfall.
“The government will not sit back and allow the shortfall to eventuate – the risk to the economy is too great. Without action to address supply, industry and households will be faced with higher prices, disruptions in supply and unplanned outages.
“Future NGIPs and the new Investment Framework will also provide greater certainty for Australian business and consumers, which will help keep downward pressure on prices that underpin our economic competitiveness.”