Frequently Asked Questions – updated May 2020

Project status

1. Who owns the Hunter Gas Pipeline project?

The Hunter Gas Pipeline Project is owned by Hunter Gas Pipeline Pty Ltd.

 

2. What are the benefits Hunter Gas believe the Queensland-Hunter Pipeline could provide to the state’s energy supply?

NSW relies on 95% of its gas from other Australian states. This pipeline provides much needed competition and security of supply for NSW and will provide baseload certainty to the electricity grid as we transition to renewables.

3. What uncertainties of gas supply to the East Coast market over the last decade still prevail?

Traditional gas supply to southern states from Bass Strait will continue to decline creating shortages of gas for homes and industries. HGP will access gas from Northern Australia (from the Wallumbilla Gas Hub and if Narrabri is approved, then from Narrabri). This supply will provide baseload certainty to NSW.

4. Why have you waited 10 years to move forward on this project?

NSW gas supply and security relies on other states. Supply projections strongly indicate ongoing shortfalls in gas supply from 2024. NSW requires an additional supply to offset the gradual decline of gas from Bass Strait.  Ensuring there is sufficient gas is critical and there is greater need than in previous years to source other supply. The state needs a gas pipeline to bring gas down from the north. This pipeline is already approved so it makes sense to move forward to construct this underground pipeline.

Pipeline and route alignment

5. Will this pipeline connect to the proposed Santos Narrabri gas field?

The pipeline is approved to transport gas from the Wallumbilla Gas Hub in Queensland to the Hexham Gas Hub in NSW, linking into the existing network and supplying gas to the Sydney Basin. If the Santos Narrabri project is approved and developed, then HGP would also connect to this hub, securing further supply.

6. There have been some changes to the originally approved corridor. What has influenced these changes?

There have been some minor changes to this corridor in response to Landholder issues/requests, constructability issues as well as third party property infrastructure. Our intent is to minimise disruption and impacts as much as possible to each Landholder. The pipeline location will continue to evolve within an approved corridor as part of firming up the final route in close liaison with Landholders.

7. How fixed is the corridor location?

We have NSW government approval to construct a pipeline from the NSW/Queensland border to Hexham near Newcastle in NSW, to sit within a 200m corridor, where practical, by October 2024. The exact location of the underground pipeline itself, with a permanent 30m easement, will be informed by constructability issues, Landholder preferences where possible (i.e. minimal ongoing disruption), and environmental impacts. The project team will collaborate with landholders over the next 12 months through site visits.  The Queensland Government has approved the section of the pipeline from the Wallumbilla Gas Hub to the Queensland/NSW border.

8. What is the width of the corridor?

The pipeline will be constructed within a corridor of 30 metres. Additional work areas may be required to enable construction in some areas (such as major road crossings). These temporary works areas will be identified during the property inspections and surveys to confirm the required construction method.

Once the pipeline easement has been fully reinstated, the only visible infrastructure will be marker signs which provide a warning to earth moving machinery operators about excavation in the area. These marker signs are located at crossing points of all fence lines, watercourses, roads, powerlines and railway lines and at other locations so that they can be clearly seen.

9. When will you build the pipeline?

There are several steps to prepare the corridor prior to construction. In addition to Landholder liaison to confirm route location within the corridor; we need to conduct pre-construction survey works, complete detailed engineering design, and order the custom-made carbon steel pipe.

NSW relies on 95% of its gas from other Australian states. This pipeline provides much needed competition and security of supply for NSW and will provide baseload certainty to the electricity grid as we transition to renewables.

 

10. Why haven’t you built it before now?

NSW depends largely on gas from Bass Strait. Supply is diminishing and it is now critical to secure another source. Constructing this pipeline from Wallumbilla Gas Hub to Newcastle is now economically justified.

Environment assessment and approvals

11. Is the Environmental Impact Statement still relevant?

The Environmental Assessment was lodged in September 2008 and approved in January 2009. This approval was been extended by the NSW government in October 2019 for a further 5 years. The Director-General’s Environmental Assessment Report Section 75I for the project remains relevant.

 

12. What does the approval relate to? What does the project consist of?

The Project to which the Project Approval 06-0286 relates is:

Construction and operation of the NSW portion of an approximately 833-kilometre high pressure natural gas pipeline from the Wallumbilla Gas Hub in Queensland to the Newcastle area in New South Wales, consisting of:

  • the construction of pipeline infrastructure such as pigging stations, valve stations and connection points (to other pipelines and facilities)

  • erection of perimeter security fences, security and service lighting and signage

  • installation of communication and telemetry towers

  • installation of cathodic protection devices, and

  • construction of pipeline corridor access tracks

 

Traversing and occupying land within:

  • the Moree Plains, Narrabri, Gunnedah, Liverpool Plains, Upper Hunter, Muswellbrook, Singleton, Maitland, Port Stephens and Newcastle Local Government Areas.

 

13. Has route selection considered avoiding areas of environmental significance?

Yes, the corridor has been planned to minimise disturbance to environmentally sensitive areas. Pipeline route planning incorporates assessment of environmental factors, sensitive receptors, existing infrastructure, topographical landscape and construction conditions, combining these into a route of least impact. As the pipeline easement is further refined, we will continue to prioritise avoiding areas of environmental significance.

Landholder matters

14. Have Landholders along the corridor been contacted regarding the pipeline traversing their area or land?

Yes, there was extensive consultation with all stakeholders as part of the original approval of the pipeline corridor 10 years ago. The recent five-year extension to this approval means that HGP will embark on an equally extensive program over the next 6-12 months to identify specific Landholder circumstances along the corridor and provide opportunities for community and stakeholder discussions about the pipeline. The time frame is now subject to the COVID-19 – it may be a little longer before we are physically back out visiting Landholders.

15. What happens if Landholders object to the project?

It is not unusual to receive objections to any linear infrastructure project whether it’s a road, railway or pipeline. We are committed to liaising with the corridor communities and collaborating closely with every single landholder along the corridor to minimise the disruption and construction impacts. The pipeline will run underground.

 

DPIE’s notice of decision dated 17 October 2019 to support this 5 year extension stated that “the public submissions were primarily from residents living outside the local government areas where the approved pipeline would traverse (89% of total public submissions)”.  

https://majorprojects.planningportal.nsw.gov.au/prweb/PRRestService/mp/01/getContent?AttachRef=MP06_0286-MOD-1%2120191017T235132.889%20GMT

 

16. Will HGP pay fair compensation?

Yes, landholders will be treated fairly in compensation dealings. Valuation of land will be undertaken by registered and independent valuers with knowledge of the land in a particular area. HGP will pay landholders reasonable expenses associated with obtaining their own professional valuation and legal advice associated with executing an easement contract/s.

The Land Liaison Representative will discuss the project needs and negotiate final routes, easement and compensation with the Landholder. We will use the services of a third party valuation firm to determine appropriate compensation offers to affected Landholder in relation to the acquisition of the easement.

 

17. Will all landholders be identified?

There are approximately 1370 landholders along the pipeline corridor. HGP has undertaken property searches of all land titles of those properties intersected by the pipeline route. We will be contacting all registered landholders intersected by the pipeline route over the next six to 12 months.

 

Construction and operation issues

 

18. Is it practical and safe to farm over the top of the pipeline?

Yes, gas pipelines and farms coexist throughout the world.  While building houses, sheds and dams above the pipeline for example will not be permitted, normal grazing and cropping can continue following construction and commissioning.

 

19. Will roads be closed during construction?

HGP accepts that road access is important during construction. HGP will use construction techniques, such as under boring formed roads or constructing temporary slip lanes (adjacent to existing formed roads) to ensure existing road use can remain during construction. Where necessary traffic controls will be used to ensure public safety.

 

20. Will blasting occur on the route?

HGP will undertake a constructability survey prior to construction. This survey will determine whether blasting of rock is necessary. Blasting is a last resort on pipeline construction with that other techniques, such as rock sawing preferable. Additionally, any blasts are designed to fracture rock without dislocating material. There is a difference between blasting for pipeline construction and mining: Mine blasts are designed to move significant rock overburden (often totalling in excess of 100,000m3 of material) to enable recovery of minerals, whereas pipeline construction blasting is smaller and designed to fracture but not to dislocate the rock to enable trenching. Construction methods used for other local infrastructure does not provide any guidance on whether blasting will be required for a pipeline construction.

 

21. Who will undertake blasting activities?

Licensed specialist sub-contractors would be engaged to conduct any blasting activities.

 

22. Will explosives be stored on site?

No. Explosives would be transported to site only if required.

 

23. Are the noise and vibration limits on blasting?

Yes, HGP approval conditions specify compliance requirements for noise and vibration from blasting.

 

24. Will local traffic constraints affect construction transport?

Prior to construction, we will consult with local councils to determine the limitations of local roads and bridges. Where bridges and other road infrastructure is not suitable for the projected construction loads then alternate routes will be used. Additionally, road condition or pavement survey will be undertaken along local transport routes to build a baseline of information and determine whether the road network has deteriorated as a result of pipeline activities and the applicable degree of remediation. There will also be community consultation sessions with the corridor communities to seek their input on the some of the construction matters including transport routes and proposed management, for example.  Project information will also be published at the local council offices and in local media publications.

 

If at any time access needs to be interrupted, advance notice will be provided, and steps taken to minimize any inconvenience. If required, there will be steel road plates on-site that can provide a safe vehicle crossing of an open trench etc.

 

25. Can emergency services access construction or nearby sites?

We will consult with Emergency Services in the area to discuss access, transport and management issues associated with the construction. The input of Emergency Services will be sought in the development of Emergency Response Plan and related management plans developed for use during construction and operation. HGP acknowledges that maintaining local access during construction is essential.

 

26. Are open trenches monitored to prevent wildlife entrapment?

Yes, it is standard practice to monitor any open trenches daily to recover and release trapped fauna. A variety of techniques are used to prevent harm to fauna being trapped during construction including the use of escape ramps to enable large fauna to escape, providing moistened bags and straw at regular intervals (typically 50 – 100m) to provide shelter to reptile species and small mammals. Certified fauna spotter/catchers inspect the open trench early each morning to recover fauna which are then released.

 

27. Will rehabilitation include replanting vegetation?

Yes, it is standard practice in pipeline construction to rehabilitate using native species typically found in the local area. Following construction, the temporary construction workspace is restored as close as possible to its original condition prior to construction and in a manner agreed with the landholder and in accordance with regulatory requirements.

Cleared vegetation on the easement can be mulched and spread across the easement as appropriate or managed in a manner agreed with the landholder. In open grazing lands a suitable improved pasture mix is typically used with a sterile cover crop to assist with pasture establishment. In cropping lands, the restoration is dependent on seasonal and the surrounding cropping regimes. In all instances, we collaborate closely with the landholder to determine the most appropriate rehabilitation regime.

 

28. When is rehabilitation undertaken?

Restoration of the Right of Way (ROW) commences as soon as the pipeline is buried. The area is recontoured and any slopes re-established. The topsoil is respread over the ROW. Depending on the rehabilitation plan for the site (e.g. native vegetation or improved pasture) seed, tubestock, hydromulches or similar are used. Generally, a sterile cover crop is used to assist with managing issues such as weed germination or soil erosion. Rehabilitation is monitored over time to ensure the efficacy of the program and enable remediation as necessary. Landholders are consulted throughout the process.

 

29. How will fire risk be managed?

HGP has a strict “no burning” policy that will apply to the pipeline construction. Cleared vegetation will not be burnt. Cooking using open flames will not be permitted at any time.

An emergency response plan will be developed and provided for comment to emergency services prior to construction. This plan will consider the risk associated with local bushfire outbreaks or burn offs or high-risk fire periods. The plan will apply to the construction areas, camps and laydown or equipment storage areas including workshops. Smoking will not be permitted, except for designated smoking areas where fire can be managed. No smoking will be permitted in construction vehicles. Breaches of the fire and smoking policies are regarded as disciplinary matters that may result in dismissal of the personnel involved.

 

30. Will gas be released from the pipe during operations?

No. It is not necessary to flare or vent the gas from the pipeline during normal pipeline operation.

 

31. Will construction proceed at night?

Generally, no. Construction will be during hours permitted under the regulatory approvals and generally only during daylight hours. Certain construction operations (such as hydrotesting where a pipeline integrity test of 24-hour duration is conducted) will require limited night works, planned in consultation with potentially affected residents, to minimise impact to them. Where night works are necessary the customary practice for pipeline construction lighting is to minimise light spill beyond the immediate area and to minimise noise.

 

32. Will vehicle speeds be restricted?

Yes, speed restrictions are used along the ROW to reduce noise and dust from vehicles travelling along the ROW. These restrictions are enforced using electronic monitoring of construction and delivery vehicles, or IVMS (Intelligent Vehicle Monitoring Systems).

 

33. Will helicopter surveillance of the pipeline occur?

Following construction, several pipeline monitoring and inspection techniques are used to check integrity of the pipeline and easement. These include electronic monitoring (such as pressure drop, voltage of cathodic protection), physical monitoring (driving along the easement, helicopter fly overs) or remote sensing. Of the monitoring techniques helicopter flyovers are infrequent for pipelines and conducted at higher altitude than powerline inspection/maintenance works. Any helicopter surveillance will be carried out at an altitude that will not affect stock movements and landholders will be consulted first.

 

34. Will roads be impacted during construction?

Traffic management conditions requires roads to be ‘trafficable’ at all times. This means our construction methods would include either under boring the road, creating a temporary slip lane or similar technique that always maintains road access.

 
 
 
 
 

© HUNTER ENERGY PROJECT 2020, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.