Australia Unveils Plan to Spur Pipeline Investment

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Australia on Friday outlined a plan to spur investment in new gas pipelines to beef up gas supply, despite the government's pledge to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

In its National Gas Infrastructure Plan, the government said its modeling showed that at least one new gas basin will need to be unlocked by 2030 to meet domestic demand and export demand for gas from Australia's east coast.

It said gas would be needed from Santos Ltd's proposed Narrabri project in New South Wales from 2026, from the undeveloped Beetaloo shale basin in the Northern Territory from 2025 and from one or two basins in Queensland from 2028.

Those developments will require five new pipelines and expansions of existing pipelines, the plan said.

The government is now seeking expressions of interest from the private sector to build those pipelines, which it said it would support.

It did not say how much spending that would involve beyond the A$263 million ($188 million) it has already committed toward opening up the Beetaloo basin, gas storage and a new gas import terminal.

The conservative government has been promoting the gas industry to drive a recovery from the pandemic-induced economic slump, viewing cheap gas as essential for food production, manufacturing and steady power supplies.

"Unlocking basins and getting gas to where it is needed will support our job-creating industries," Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor said in a statement.

In its National Gas Infrastructure Plan released on Friday, the government said its modeling

($1 = 1.3988 Australian dollars)

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