With a moratorium on unconventional oil and gas exploration now in place in several Australian states and territories, there is a risk of reduced supply for customers and exports. However, in a move to secure gas supply, Queensland Gas Company (QGC) is continuing the sustainable development of gas fields in the state through Project Ruby.
In March 2017, QGC, a Shell Australia joint venture, announced that it will be extending its operations in the Surat Basin with the drilling of up to 161 additional wells – a move that will enable further supply to both domestic customers and natural gas exports.
The project, dubbed Project Ruby, expands on QGC’s operations in the Basin, and will underpin 350 new and existing jobs in regional Queensland during the 16 month construction period, and sustain QGC’s gas production as older wells decline.
Keeping it local
Since the project was announced, QGC has begun construction with a 2.2km upgrade to Wieambilla Road and 1.38km of upgrades to Ravens Road.
The project area is part of QGC’s existing tenements in south-west Queensland with 17km of access tracks completed on these tenements, 20 well sites prepared for drilling, and 12 wells already drilled.
Pumps will be used to extract water and gas from these wells, and then compress the gas to sales gas pressure for transport via high pressure pipelines.
Local pump companies will be given the opportunity to supply the pumps required for Project Ruby, as per QGC’s supplier policy which was launched in 2016.
By providing local pump suppliers with the opportunity to supply it with competitively priced products, it aims to support the long-term economic stability of the region.
Tony Nunan, QGC Managing Director, said that the policy was the result of community feedback, and aims to ensure local businesses have full, fair and reasonable opportunity to compete for QGC business.
“Actively encouraging local procurement is one of the four objectives of our new Local Content Policy,” Mr Nunan said.
“Businesses can now register their interest in working with us through our website free of charge.
“These measures will help QGC build on its track record of creating opportunities for local business as we work to supply natural gas to businesses and homes in Australia and beyond.”
Ensuring gas supply for QLD
Shell Chairman Andrew Smith said this latest project was the company’s way of continuing to supply gas into the east coast market whilst protecting valuable export jobs in regional Australia.
“This is the next significant milestone for the QGC project and a further vote of confidence in Queensland’s onshore gas industry,” Mr Smith said.
“We are proud to be investing in regional Queensland, where state and local government have had the vision to establish the rules for a gas industry that creates jobs and supports farmers by providing water, building new roads and paying taxes.
“During construction the Queensland gas industry created more than 40,000 jobs, and even today after construction has been completed it employs 13,000 people.
“Queensland has shown itself to be a leader in creating an onshore gas industry, creating valuable export jobs, and [this] announcement shows the industry is growing and creating more jobs.”Meeting growing demand
The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) Queensland Director, Rhys Turner, said the start of Project Ruby was an important milestone for QGC and the Queensland gas industry.
“The only way to meet growing demand for gas for our export and domestic markets is to increase supply,” Mr Turner said.
“The Queensland gas industry is committed to supplying gas into the east coast market. This new project will help the industry to deliver on its commitment.”
Setting the right policies
The gas industry’s commitment to continuing the supply of gas into the east coast market can be met, in part, due to the State Government introducing policy aimed at promoting the sustainable development of the industry.
Such policy is important, as the tightening of gas supply, in part due to restrictions on exploration in other states and territories, will translate to higher gas prices.
Queensland Minister for Natural Resources, Dr Anthony Lynham, said ongoing investment in Queensland’s $70 billion CSG-LNG industry, through projects such as Project Ruby, shows the policy settings are right.
He said this is good news for gas supplies and jobs in Queensland, with studies showing that for every local person working directly in the CSG industry, a further three new indirect jobs are created within the Surat region.