Jemena wins bid to build 622-km gas pipeline from NT to Qld

A gas pipeline from the Northern Territory to Queensland will drive exploration for untapped gas fields and will contribute to the growth of northern Australia, the chief minister says.

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Adam Giles announced on Tuesday that industrial fertiliser and explosives producer Incitec Pivot had signed a 10-year deal with PowerWater Corporation to provide it with the NT’s excess gas, starting from 2018.

It is the largest consumer of industrial gas in eastern Australia.

The gas pipeline will be constructed by Jemena, which is owned by China’s State Grid Corporation and Singapore Power, and which supplies the majority of gas in NSW.

The NT currently pays for gas it doesn’t consume “so we’re losing money each and every day”, Mr Giles said.

‘It is nation building’

The North East Gas Interconnector (NEGI) will also help stave off a looming energy crisis in the eastern states, he said.

“The pipeline itself is truly historic, it does cross borders, it is nation building, it adds to a national pipeline network,” Mr Giles said.

“Particularly it helps continue and build jobs in Australia in the manufacturing industry … there will be more jobs in exploration and development of gas fields, and our true vision, when it’s finalised, will be a manufacturing industry in the NT creating both upstream and downstream jobs.”

He said the increased revenue PowerWater Corporation would make from selling excess gas would lead to reduced electricity prices for Territorians.

A 622-kilometre pipeline

The 622 kilometre pipeline, which Jemena expects to complete in 2018, will run between Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory and Mount Isa in Queensland, a shorter and cheaper route than proposed by two of the other bidders.

The alternative, running south to the gas hub of Moomba, would have provided more connections to southeastern markets for the Northern Territory’s 230 trillion cubic feet of onshore and offshore gas resources, but the northern route was more affordable and quicker to build.

“Going south just wouldn’t have provided the same catalyst to fast track development of the NT’s gas fields,” Jemena Managing Director Paul Adams said in a statement.

The pipeline was cheered by manufacturers, who have long complained that Australia’s major gas producers were going to drain the market of gas for their liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects and have raised concern about a lack of competition among domestic gas suppliers.

“The NEGI (North East Gas Interconnector) will…increase gas supply to the east coast market where energy-intensive manufacturers are desperate for competitive supply options,” Incitec Pivot Ltd Chief Executive James Fazzino said in an emailed statement.

Fertiliser and explosives maker Incitec, the biggest industrial gas consumer on the east coast, has already signed up as a customer for the pipeline, committing to buy gas from NT’s Power and Water Corp for 10 years for a fertiliser plant in Queensland.

It also has a tentative agreement to buy gas from Central Petroleum, which expects to provide more than half of the pipeline’s initial throughput.

Industry welcomes news

“The creation of a new market for onshore gas discovered in the Northern Territory is truly transformational for the Territory and Central Petroleum,” Managing Director Richard Cottee said in a statement.

The Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA) welcomed news of the project as nationally significant.

“By the time it is built, we are likely to see some tightening of supply on the east coast so the timing is very good,” CEO Malcolm Roberts said.

“By stimulating gas exploration and production in remote areas of the NT it will help deliver tangible, long-term job opportunities in regional centres and indigenous communities.”

Green groups concerned about seismic instability

But Green groups have rejected the pipeline, citing seismic instability in the Tennant Creek region and community concern around fracking.

“We’ve got family right through the pipeline area and up through the NT Gulf country, all who are going to be affected when this pipeline drives dangerous fracking gasfields across the Territory,” said Gadrian Hoosan, a traditional owner from Borroloola.

Hydraulically fractured gas was expensive and risky, said Naomi Hogan of the Lock the Gate Alliance NT.

“This NEGI gas pipeline is nothing but a gas giveaway to wealthy overseas companies that want to frack our land and send our gas offshore,” Ms Hogan said.

With an NT election due in August, the construction of the pipeline was far from guaranteed, she said.

The North East Gas Interconnector: 

900 jobs will be created during the construction phase600 jobs will be on the ground between Tennant Creek and Mount Isa, including 160 jobs for indigenous workersThe pipeline will generate about 100 contracts worth $112 million for local businessesJemena won the contract because it offered the lowest tariffs for piping the gasThe pipeline can be scaled up from 14 inches to 18 or 20 if further gas reserves are uncovered before construction beginsThe NT government estimates the NT has more than 200 trillion cubic feet of gas, which could potentially power Australia for 200 yearsAll royalties will go towards vocational education and training.

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Syria solution tops agenda as Turnbull joins world leaders at APEC

Extended coverage: Fallout from Paris attacks

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is expected to hold a bilateral meeting with the United States President Barack Obama this afternoon in the Philippines ahead of the APEC summit tomorrow.

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A smiling Mr Turnbull did not take questions from reporters as he arrived at his hotel in the Philippines capital.

It is expected the discussion will centre around Australia’s military commitment in Syria and whether that mission will be expanded.

Australia is one of a number of nations carrying out airstrikes in Syria.

United States President Barack Obama said the coalition forces will redouble their efforts to defated ISIS.

“Here at the G-20, our nations have sent an unmistakable message: that we are united against this threat,” he said.

“ISIL is the face of evil. Our goal, as I’ve said many times, is to degrade and ultimately destroy this barbaric terrorist organization.”

The Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Australia will consider every request that comes from its coalition partners.

“We’re already making a significant contribution, I believe, second largest to the United States…We’ll continue to work closely with them to ensure that Australia continues to play its part in seeking to disrupt and destroy Daesh, this horrific terrorist organisation.”

The Prime Minister and Foreign Minister are in Manila for the APEC summit but economic and trade talks have been overshadowed by the attacks in Paris.

Mr Turnbull has praised the work of Australian security agencies in the fight against terror on home soil. He said the terror threat alert level will remain at the same level.

“We recognise that risks exist, that attacks are possible. Attacks in this environment are likely to happen in the future, but Australians can be assured that we have the best security agencies, they are monitoring the situation and seeking to protect Australians at home and so far as we can, abroad.”

The official APEC meetings begin tomorrow.

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Putin, Turnbull discuss Syria crisis

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has talked briefly with Vladimir Putin as the US and Russia consider stepping up military action against Islamic State.

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Mr Turnbull and the Russian president met briefly during a session of the G20 summit in the Turkish resort city of Antalya before the prime minister jetted off to Manila for the start of the APEC summit.

No details of their talks have been disclosed.

However, Russia has agreed with the US and other members of a group set up to deal with Syria for there to be a UN Security Council resolution, ceasefire and other steps towards a political solution in the war-wracked country.

Australia is already the second largest contributor to the US-led coalition in Iraq, with RAAF combat aircraft conducting bombing raids on IS targets in Iraq and Syria.

Mr Turnbull will meet with US President Barack Obama for the first time as leader in Manila on Tuesday afternoon, when the pair will compare notes on how to find a political solution in Syria and defeat IS, also known as Daesh and ISIL.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who’s also in Manila and has teleconferenced with Mr Turnbull and other members of the national security committee, said she believed Daesh would seek to repeat attacks similar to those in Paris.

This made it all the more important to forge a better international effort.

“Given that the US and Russia hopefully are forming a single coalition, we’ll continue to work closely with them to ensure that Australia continues to play its part in seeking to disrupt and destroy Daesh,” she said.

Ms Bishop said she expected military operations to intensify but was reluctant to talk about boots on the ground.

Australia has yet to receive any formal request for extra effort beyond the training of troops in Iraq and the air strikes.

“We would always consider a request in a measured and collaborative way, working with our allies,” she said.

Former prime minister Tony Abbott says Australia should be prepared to send special forces soldiers into Syria and Iraq to help destroy IS militants and also to relax restrictive rules of engagement to allow an increase in Australian air strikes on IS targets.

The government has little appetite for either.

Ms Bishop said Australia played by the rules.

“We’re not going to expose our soldiers to international consequences should we be acting unilaterally,” she said.

A spokesman for Defence Minister Marise Payne said there were no plans to ease rules of engagement for Australian combat aircraft, intended to minimise the risk of civilian casualties.

The government is also considering attaching a warship to a French carrier task group set to start air strikes against IS in Iraq and Syria later this month.

“The government is considering that and I look forward to speaking about it further with the PM when he returns,” Senator Payne told reporters in Adelaide.

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Dunk, Bird lead Tassie to NSW Shield win

Ben Dunk and Jackson Bird have made a case that they are ready to resume their international careers after leading Tasmania to a drought-breaking 223-run Sheffield Shield win over NSW.

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Dunk was dominant with the bat – top-scoring with 68 in the Tigers’ first dig before blasting an unbeaten 143 in the second innings to set up his side’s win.

After hitting his second first-class ton in as many matches, he sits atop the Shield run-scorers’ list with 389 from three matches.

With Australian selector Mark Waugh taking notes in the stands at Sydney’s Bankstown Oval, he made a strong claim that he was more than a short-form specialist and ready to add to his three international T20 appearances.

He was dominant in a knock that lasted more than six hours, stretched over two days and included 18 fours, to help Tasmania to 7(dec)-313 and set NSW a target of 394 that proved too big.

The Tigers’ bowling unit, led by Bird who was consistent with his line and length, skittled the Blues for just 170.

NSW lost four wickets for nine runs at one point as they crumbled in the second session of the fourth day with only opener Ryan Carters (77) providing any resistance.

Hamish Kingston (4-61) was outstanding after being called in for his first Shield game of the season, finishing with seven wickets for the match while Bird claimed match figures of 5-72.

Bird played three Tests for Australia in 2012-13 but had been troubled by a series of stress fractures in his back for the past few years.

Tasmanian coach Dan Marsh said the 28-year-old was starting to get back to the sort of form that earned him a baggy green and expected him to continue taking wickets.

“I think he’s back to where he was when he was selected for Australia,” Marsh said.

“He’s had some injuries over the last two years but he’s overcome them and bowling really well.

“Going forward, if he did get selected for Australia, he wouldn’t let anyone down.”

For the Tigers, the result represented a monkey off their back after losing their previous seven Shield games including the first two of this season.

The Blues will be bitterly disappointed after sinking to one win from three games, in the wake of their clash with Victoria being abandoned and the Bushrangers awarded the full six points.

“It was a wicket where you could score runs if you batted well and Ben Dunk was the best example of that,” Carters said.

“He batted well in both innings across this game.

“At the same time, the ball was shooting through at stump height. The bowlers, if they bowled well, were a good chance of getting lbws.”

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Monadelphous flags revenue drop in half

Engineering group Monadelphous has flagged a fall in first half revenue as market conditions remain challenging.

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Opportunities for new construction contracts are likely to remain at “reduced levels” as customers focus on cutting operating costs and improving efficiency, managing director Rob Velletri said.

“Australian market conditions continue to be competitive and are expected to remain challenging on the back of lower resource and energy commodity prices,” Mr Velletri told the company’s annual general meeting in Perth on Tuesday.

Monadelphous said a significant fall in construction demand was continuing to hurt sales revenue, leading the company to forecast first half revenue will be around 10 per cent lower than the second half of the 2014/15 financial year.

The Perth-based company said full year sales revenues would be dependent on project timing and new contract awards.

Still, Mr Velletri said the company had around $1 billion of maintenance service tenders in progress, with several tenders expected to be awarded before the end of 2015.

“Our leading reputation in the services market puts us in a strong position to capitalise on these opportunities,” he said.

The company says its total workforce fell 15 per cent over the past year to June and it has secured around $600 million of new work since July.

The company said was focused on reducing costs to protect margins as it continued to diversify its revenue sources.

Monadelphous said the oil and gas sector offered more positive prospects for maintenance and industrial services.

The company has reduced costs and improve productivity after 2015 full year net profit fell 23.6 per cent to $105.8 million.

Over the past four months the group has recently secured contracts with Chevron, South32 and Nyrstar.

Monadelphous shares rose 34 cents to close at $6.82.

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