Basin review, Markets

APA Group – upping the ante on Victoria’s gas transmission

The Victorian Transmission System (VTS) comprises approximately 1,993 km of high-pressure gas transmission pipelines, serving approximately 1.4 million residential consumers and 43,000 industrial and commercial users, with an average annual throughput in excess of 220 petajoules per annum.

“Almost all the natural gas consumed in Victoria is transported through the VTS,”? says APA Group General Manager Commercial Rob Wheals.

The VTS primarily functions to transport gas from Esso’s Longford gas treatment plant in southeast Victoria, which processes gas from offshore Bass Strait gas fields, the Otway Basin gas fields and underground storage in southwest Victoria. APA’s Dandenong LNG storage facility provides peak shaving and security of supply services for the VTS and wholesale trade in LNG used as fuel for transport vehicles.

Sunbury Pipeline augmentation – Stage 1

The Sunbury Pipeline augmentation project aims to maintain an uninterrupted gas supply to the Sunbury and Ballarat regions during peak demand periods. The project involves a staged increase in capacity for the future Western Outer Ring Main Pipeline, while utilising new infrastructure to alleviate immediate constraints in Sunbury and Ballarat.

Stage 1 consists of the construction of the new Class 600, 8.4 km, 500 mm diameter Sunbury Pipeline, which will be located predominantly within the existing VTS easement. This will be connected to the recently constructed Brooklyn to Lara Pipeline, and will satisfy the immediate Sunbury and Ballarat constraints by supplying high-pressure gas as replacement for recompressed gas from the Brooklyn compressor station.

“APA considered a number of pipeline sizes for the Sunbury augmentation and although a 200 mm diameter pipeline would have met the short-term constraint, APA took a longer term view to the project solution.

“The incremental costs of a 500 mm diameter pipeline design were deemed acceptable on the basis that the resultant outcomes were consistent with APA’s long-term objectives to maximise overall capacity and flexibility of the VTS.

“The strategic driver for this approach is to meet both the Victorian demand growth, and current and future interstate demand via the interconnect to New South Wales,”? says Mr Wheals.

APA General Manager Projects Rob McMaster says that the major challenge with the Sunbury augmentation project has been obtaining environmental approvals at the local and state government levels.

“The project passes through land earmarked as an urban growth zone for which separate environmental approvals are required.”

“While there were challenges with the application of the assessment framework to the project, APA and local government agencies worked together to achieve a balanced outcome on net gain liabilities consistent with the independent studies undertaken by the project,”? says Mr McMaster.

APA has contracted National Australian Pipeline to construct the pipeline, which will provide a base for further expansion in 2013-17. The pipeline is expected to be completed by the end of the second quarter of 2012.

Northern Zone augmentation – Stage 2

A new compressor station is also required at Euroa in order to provide increased northerly and southerly flows of gas along the VTS. The new station will involve the installation of a Solar Centaur 50 compressor.

“This will improve deliverability of gas for customers in northern Victoria during times of peak demand,”? says Mr Wheals. “The project also lays the basis for significantly increasing future gas supply from Victoria into NSW through APA’s assets to meet the growing demand driven by gas-fired power generation and retail growth.”?

Installation of the Euroa compressor station will increase the peak capacity by 20 terajoules per day (TJ/d) to 48 TJ/day, allowing APA to make available additional capacity on the VTS as well as contract firm capacity in NSW.

“The major challenge with this project is competing resources, as this compressor station is being constructed in approximately the same timeframe as the construction of the Dalby compressor station on the Roma to Brisbane Gas Pipeline,”? says Mr McMaster.

“APA has taken the approach to have a single project manager and team for both compressor stations to extract efficiencies in planning, design and construction, and to have a co-ordinated approach to resource management.”?

To support this common project management approach, APA has contracted Downer EDI to construct both compressor stations.

The Euroa compressor station is Stage 2 of the Northern Zone augmentation project. The $42 million Stage 1 of the augmentation was completed during 2010-11 and included modifications to an existing compressor station at Springhurst, capacity expansion of the Wollert to Euroa Pipeline, as well as an upgrade of the existing Wollert compressor station (as reported in the August edition of Gas Today) .

The commissioning date for Stage 2 of the Northern Zone augmentation is expected in late 2012.

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