Western Slopes Pipeline
|This article is part of the Global Fossil Infrastructure Tracker, a project of Global Energy Monitor.|
The Western Slopes Pipeline is a proposed natural gas pipeline.
The pipeline would run from the Narrabri Gas Project near the Pillaga Forest in New South Wales to the Moomba Sydney Pipeline in New South Wales.
- Operator: APA Western Slopes Pipeline
- Parent Company: APA Group
- Current Capacity:
- Proposed capacity: 200 terajoules per day (189 million MMscf/day)
- Length: 280 miles / 450 kilometers
- Status: Shelved
- Start Year:
The Western Slopes Pipeline would carry coal seam gas from the proposed Narrabri Gas Project (NGP) to the New South Wales gas transmission market through the Moomba Sydney Pipeline. The pipeline would be owned by APA Group and operated by its subsidiary APA Western Slopes Pipeline. In February 2017 APA Group submitted a Preliminary Environmental Assessment (PEA) in support of an application to build the pipeline to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment. Field studies along the proposed pipeline alignment began in August 2017. According to APA, "approximately half of the field studies to support the Project have been undertaken via voluntary landowner agreements, and the other half undertaken in accordance with the right granted by the ATS.”
Facing heavy opposition to the NGP, APA announced in October 2018 that it would "defer submission of the EIS for the WSP until the assessment of the NGP EIS has further progressed."
Coal Seam Gas
Coal seam gas is found in coal seams, where underground water pressure keeps it contained. Pumping water out of the coal seam releases this pressure and allows gas to escape from the coal into a well. Coal seam gas wells produce large volumes of water (averaging 10,000 litres of water per day per well in Queensland). This water can contain salt and other contaminants that exist normally in coal seams in varying concentrations.
According to the environmental group Lock The Gate Alliance, the impacts of coal seam gas mining include "encroachment on good farming land, disruption of other land uses and industries, clearing of bushland, air pollution, contamination or depletion of ground or surface water, pollution of waterways, health impacts on workers and nearby residents, and damage to biodiversity."
The practice also raises concerns about global warming because methane is a relatively potent greenhouse gas with a high global warming potential 72 times that of carbon dioxide (averaged over 20 years) or 25 times that of carbon dioxide (averaged over 100 years), according to the IPCC's Third Assessment Report. (Note that the global warming potential of methane was estimated at 21 times that of carbon dioxide, averaged over 100 years, in the IPCC Second Assessment Report, and the 21 figure is currently used for regulatory purposes in the United States.) Methane in the atmosphere is eventually oxidized, producing carbon dioxide and water. This breakdown accounts for the decline in the global warming potential of methane over longer periods of time.
The Western Slopes Pipeline and the Narrabi Gas Project have been opposed by environmentalists, farmers, landowners, and residents of communities that would be impacted by the two projects. In November 2017 a standoff between farmers and surveyors for APA Group occurred near Coonamble, New South Wales, in which farmers discovered APA surveyors on private land and formed a human picket line to prevent them from leaving. The surveyors reportedly did not have identification or a copy of the court order allowing them to survey the land. Also in November 2017, approximately 300 protesters formed a human sign that said "NO CSG" in a dry riverbed in the Pillaga Forest. “A project that would produce over 400,000 tonnes of toxic salty waste and provides no solution to its disposal is clearly not sustainable," said Margaret Fleck, a famer in Mullalley. “Santos expect to take water out of the bottom of the bucket without affecting the top,” said Malcolm Donaldson, a farmer in Boggabri. “We will continue to mobilise into next year as we simply cannot allow this disaster to unfold, risking our precious Great Artesian Basin and productive farmland.”
Articles and resources
- Preliminary Environmental Assessment, APA Group, Jan. 3, 2017
- Convert Terajoules to Cubic Feet Of Natural Gas, Kyle's Converter, accessed March 2020
- Western Slopes Pipeline, APA Group, accessed March 2018
- Pilliga pipeline proponents trapped on farm, police step in, The Land, Nov. 21, 2017
- Project Updates, APA, October 2018
- The coal seam gas debate, Parliament of Australia, accessed February 2018
- Unconventional Gas Facts: About Coal Seam Gas, Lock The Gate Alliance, Aug. 14, 2015
- Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M. Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.)"Climate Change 2007: Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis: 2.10.2 Direct Global Warming Potentials", IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007, Cambridge University Press, 2007.
- "Methane," U.S. Environmental Protection Agency information page, accessed July 2010
- Hundreds for human sign in protest of coal seam gas in Pilliga, The Northern Daily Leader, Nov. 14, 2017