A 700-kilometre pipeline to connect existing gas infrastructure in the Northern Territory and Queensland could be the start of a national pipeline grid, which would provide significant operational and economic benefits.

That’s the vision of Mick McCormack, chief executive officer and managing director of Australia’s largest gas infrastructure business, APA Group.

APA’s 14,120 kilometres of pipelines represents approximately 65 per cent of Australia’s gas transmission pipelines. The company holds $12 billion in assets and, in addition to the pipelines, also owns and operates two gas storage facilities, 25,000 kilometres of gas distribution, 450 megawatts of power generation, and 239 kilometres of HV electricity transmission.

“In the years to come, having an established pipeline infrastructure will serve the Territory well as it provides the foundation for growth and development of the gas industry,” McCormack said at the Australian Pipeline Industry Association’s (APIA) annual Darwin dinner.

Should the pipeline grid become a reality, McCormack said shippers will be better able to manage their upstream gas portfolio. Simplifying the movement of gas across assets and jurisdictions would provide seamless service, and there will be greater flexibility with multi-directional flows and an improved service platform to meet individual customer needs, creating a ‘one-stop-shop’ for integrated flexible services.

This will bring enhanced operational efficiencies, an optimisation of grid capacity and capability and more efficient capital expenditure for increased capacity and/or new services.

A pipeline grid system has greater adaptability, is capable of responding to short and long term market changes, including the perceived gas shortage in New South Wales, gas pricing and gas demand, and re-contracting of foundational supply and transportation agreements.

“The NT’s current gas supply from the Bonaparte and Amadeus Basins is sufficient to meet existing demand but new supply will be required post 2020 to support market demand,” said McCormack. “This will be particularly important if the Gove pipeline connection proceeds.”

This, he said, will all help deliver a more secure, longer term future for industry, with incremental and brownfield expansion opportunities to bring new gas to markets and satisfy growth in gas demand. Any expansions will also be underwritten by long term revenue arrangements.