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Is it time to re-visit the gas to Queensland project?

By Jeffrey Wall - posted Friday, 4 November 2022


Readers will have observed that when I write about the Australia-Papua New Guinea relationship I am often frustrated and disappointed.

Today I'm more than both - I'm angry!

We hear from the federal government daily that we face a critical shortage of gas - with prices for industry and households to rise by up to 50 per cent. At the same time power prices will rise by even more.

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This alarming situation surely justifies a look again at the proposed PNG gas to Queensland project which was abandoned around 15 years ago. When Prime Minister Albanese visits PNG next month, his PNG counterpart James Marape might invite him to seriously consider re-examining the proposal.

I had a minor role advising the PNG Government on the project. It really received a boost when PNG Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, met with Queensland Premier Peter Beattie in 2003. Both governments unreservedly committed to helping the project become a reality.

Sir Michael firmed a high-powered ministerial task force to work with the project's proponents AGL Australia and Petronas, a large Malaysian energy company, to get the project designed, secure environmental and native title approvals, and importantly sign up customers, principally industries along the Queensland coast from Cairns to Gladstone.

That was the initial modest proposal. A spur to provide gas to Gove in the Northern Territory was suggested but that was a long shot and frankly an unhelpful diversion.

Discussions were also held on a possible extension of the pipeline to Brisbane, regional Queensland and New South Wales and Victoria.

AGL was even considering extending it to boost the supply of gas at its Moomba facility in South Australia!

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At the same time there were two other significant gas development proposals in Australia and Papua New Guinea.

Three companies were in negotiations with the Queensland and Australian Governments to build pipelines from the Surat Basin to the port of Gladstone carrying coal seam gas.

I held the view at the time the proponents of the three Queensland CSG pipelines were not opposed to the PNG Gas to Queensland as their proposals involved the export of all production overseas with no gas reservation for domestic use.

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About the Author

Jeffrey Wall CSM CBE is a Brisbane Political Consultant and has served as Advisor to the PNG Foreign Minister, Sir Rabbie Namaliu Prime Minister 1988-1992 and Speaker 1994-1997.

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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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