The NT Government says the development of a pipeline to transport gas from the Beetaloo Basin to Darwin is critical "to fulfil the Territory's gas vision".
Many people were surprised yesterday to learn the Government had taken the first steps to plot a route for a gas pipeline from Tennant Creek to Darwin.
According to maps provided in tender documents, the pipeline is expected to closely follow the path of the Stuart Highway through Katherine and Pine Creek.
Tenders for the work close today.
The government has responded to questions from the Katherine Times over the apparent secrecy surrounding the plans.
Details of the tender were uncovered by the Lock the Gate Alliance.
"There have been no announcements made about forthcoming gas pipeline projects in the Northern Territory," a spokeswoman for the NT Trade, Business and Innovation Department said, in explaining why the pipeline plan had caught many by surprise.
The spokeswoman said the NT Government had not yet committed direct funding for any new pipeline projects.
Costings for this pre-feasibility study for a pipeline corridor also remain in house.
"The tenders for the prefeasibility study has been advertised as Tier 3 procurement, while the project is still in the tendering phase information on tender values remain commercial in confidence."
A Tier 3 procurement ranges from $100,000 to $500,000.
This proposed pipeline would link up with the $800 million gas pipeline between Tennant Creek and Mount Isa which was opened by Jemena in 2018.
The big energy companies like Origin Energy and Santos have rushed to the Beetaloo Basin, near Daly Waters, to continue deep drilling of shale gas and confirm their expectations of a large resource.
There is a gas pipeline, the 330km McArthur River pipeline, which penetrates into the Beetaloo area but it only has limited capacity.
More reading: The battle for Beetaloo.
The NT Government spokeswoman said the pre-feasibility analysis would consider routing options, engineering, geotechnical, environmental, financial, land use and sacred site considerations involved in the creation of a new gas corridor.
"The analysis will assist in the de-risking of the corridor with a view to supporting future development and investment."
The spokeswoman said the proposed pipeline was an industry development activity "to support the development of the onshore gas industry and to maximise benefits for Territorians".
The government spokeswoman continued:
This prefeasibility study for the Tennant Creek to Darwin Natural Gas Pipeline Corridor supports the Northern Territory Governments Vision to turn the Territory into a world-class gas production, manufacturing and services hub by 2030, through its five point plan to:
- Expand the world-scale Darwin LNG export hub
- Grow the Northern Territory's service and supply industry
- Establish gas-based processing and manufacturing
- Grow local research, innovation and training capacity
- Contribute to Australia's energy security
For many, the proposed pipeline is the missing piece of the puzzle needed for the establishment of an onshore gas industry in the NT.
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