Climate groups slam National Gas Infrastructure Plan

gas burning at plant (National Gas Infrastructure Plan)
Gas burning at Victoria’s Longford Gas Conditioning Plant (Image: Joe Castro/AAP)

The government has released the first full National Gas Infrastructure Plan (NGIP) and the Future Gas Infrastructure Investment Framework, prompting outcry from climate groups.

As part of the Morrison Government’s gas-led recovery, the NGIP sets out a long-term development pathway that locks in supply for households and manufacturers, and five priority actions for east coast gas supply and infrastructure out to 2040. 

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Key findings of the NGIP include:

  • At least one new basin will need to be brought online before 2030 to meet projected east coast gas demand;
  • Critical basins to unlock out to 2030 include the Narrabri gas project (NSW), the Beetaloo sub-basin (NT), the Galilee basin (QLD), and the North Bowen basin (QLD).
  • Strategic expansions to existing pipeline capacity and the construction of entirely new pipelines will be needed to transport gas supplies to east coast markets; and
  • Expanded transportation capacity from north to south is required as northern supply expands and southern supply declines.

Climate activist group 350.org Australia has branded the Morrison Government’s plans to increase support for the gas industry “a dangerous decision to help his billionaire mining mates”.

350 Australia senior campaigner Shani Tager said, “It’s abhorrent that the Morrison Government is handing public money to their billionaire mates in gas companies to build infrastructure that will fuel the climate crisis for decades to come. 

“The International Energy Agency has been crystal clear that there cannot be any new gas projects if we’re going to reach net zero emissions by 2050. 

“New gas projects are damaging to the climate and local environment and fiercely opposed by Traditional Owners and local communities. The government throwing their support and our public money at these dirty gas projects will just strengthen community opposition.

“The Morrison Government has a track record of giving public money to gas industry players with close ties to the Liberal party and there’s no reason to think that this new program will be any different. The whole thing stinks.”

However, Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said the NGIP signals to the market priority actions for ensuring affordable, reliable gas and provides a pathway to unlocking new supply. 

“The Morrison Government is serious about gas and acknowledges the important role it plays supporting jobs, food-production, manufacturing, industry, exports and energy supply,” Taylor said. 

“The National Gas Infrastructure Plan supports a strategic approach to gas infrastructure investment over the next 20 years and aims to guide industry to priority areas that need to be addressed to avoid a supply shortfall.

“This will ensure our domestic gas prices remain internationally competitive. The United Kingdom and Europe have experienced price increases over 400 per cent in recent months due to gas shortages.

“The government cannot sit back and allow that to happen here. Australian prices have remained 60 to 70 per cent lower than prices in Asia and Europe even in light of this major energy shock. 

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“Unlocking basins and getting gas to where it is needed will support our job-creating industries. Our focus on gas and energy security has helped to grow our manufacturing sector, which is now at more than 1 million jobs—levels not seen since 2009.” 

The government has committed to developing an ongoing series of NGIPs, with the next report to be delivered in late 2022.