A common question at workshops is the legislation surrounding pipelines and the different types that are used. There are three main pipelines used:
  • 42 inch pipeline to Gladstone LNG facilities (sometimes called the transmission pipeline);
  • gathering lines; and
  •  trunklines.
Regarding the Gladstone pipelines, currently Santos (GLNG), QGC (QCLNG) and Origin (APLNG) have gained approval and have started construction of their individual pipelines; Arrow is still completing the approval process. These pipelines are not to be confused with gathering systems, which are the smaller, usually polyethylene pipes, used to connect individual gas wells to centralised systems transporting gas to field compressor stations and trunklines taking gas to central processing plants from these compressor stations. At these processing and compressor facilities the gas undergoes a number of treatments including removing water, cooling and compressing the gas into the pipelines transporting the gas to Gladstone for conversion to LNG for export.

The Petroleum & Gas (Production and Safety) Act provides authority for companies to explore, produce and transport gas through pipelines. The Act also allows for what are called 'incidental activities' which may include the construction and operation of any pipelines used for petroleum activities on land that is within the boundaries of a Petroleum Lease (PL) or an Authority To Prospect (ATP) tenure. However, if the company needs to transport this gas outside the area of the PL or ATP they must make an application to government to obtain a Petroleum Pipeline License (PPL).

The PPL covers a specific area that is termed pipeline land and it is only on this land that the pipeline can be constructed and operated. It is important to note that a PPL being granted over the land does not in itself create an easement or give companies the right to enter land to construct and operate the pipeline. In order to construct and/or operate the pipeline the company must either hold an appropriate separate easement over the land (explicitly for the construction or operation of the pipeline), obtain written permission from the landowner to enter and construct the pipeline (including compensation and conduct arrangements) or hold what is called a Part 5 Permission from the government. This Part 5 Permission can only be obtained by a company where they can prove they have, where reasonable, consulted with the landowner about acquiring the land for the authorised purpose and have been unsuccessful in this process. If a company cannot prove this to government then this Part 5 Permission to access the land without written landholder consent may not be granted. An example of this is a recent case from the Queensland Supreme Court available here.

Therefore, pipeline systems that are within the area of a PL may be constructed without the requirement for this PPL. Pipeline systems that are outside a PL will need a PPL. What this means for landholders is that in discussions with your resource company representative it is important to know what type of tenure the company is operating under and what activities this allows the company to undertake. In particular, do they have the approval to construct and operate pipelines, including water and gas systems across your property.

For more information email the AgForce Projects team.

The CSG Project is delivered by AgForce Projects with the support of the Queensland Government, the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, Queensland Resources Council and the GasFields Commission Queensland.
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