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An expert on pipeline networks has said the planned Queensland Hunter Gas Pipeline (QHGP) would be overwhelmingly beneficial for the region.
Dr George Kouretzis is an associate professor at the University of Newcastle. His team is focused on understanding issues that affect onshore pipeline networks including safety, design, environmental impacts and economic, social and political issues.
Dr Kouretzis said he had not been involved with the QHGP project specifically, but could speak generally about pipeline networks in Australia.
He said concerned residents should take comfort in the fact that Australia’s pipelines have stringent manufacturing protocols and an excellent safety record.
“In Australia we’ve never had any fatalities with a pipeline,” he said. “We’ve had accidents in the past, a rupture in Adelaide and disruptions in services but no one injured.”
He said sections of pipeline in residential areas are manufactured to even stricter standards. Dr Kouretzis said the buried pipeline would have a minimal environmental impact. And even if a leak occurred, automated valves shut the line down until repairs can be made.
“[Pipelines] can’t disrupt the migration or habitats of animals, and the developer must restore the environment after planting the pipes,” he said. “There’s no environmental damage, the gas is not a liquid so it won’t contaminate an aquifer. It is flammable, but it will dissolve quickly in the air.”
Dr Kouretzis said pipelines transport about 20 per cent of Australia’s energy supply – a massive market that the Hunter could tap into and benefit widely from.
“[The QHGP] would create a significant number of jobs in its construction and around it. But it’s not just the workers, it’ll be a boost to the general economy.
“But more importantly, after construction, it adds value to the region.
“If you plan to export LNG (Liquid Natural Gas), Newcastle would become the first point for transferring it overseas. It would also be good for [Australia’s] energy security.”