Casino gas could power Queensland

Metgasco will begin drilling near Casino soon to determine whether the areas gas reserves are large enough to supply energy to south-east Queensland. Inset: Metgasco managing director David Johnson.

Over a billion dollars worth of gas could be leaving Casino and heading to south-east Queensland over the next 20 years after the sunshine states largest producer of gas-fired electricity yesterday announced an $11 million deal with energy company Metgasco.

Metgasco has been carrying out exploratory work in the south Casino region for many years and has found significant reserves of coal seam gas.

The $11 million investment by CS Energy, a Queensland government corporation, means Metgasco can almost immediately start drilling 10 exploration wells to ensure it can supply the 18 petajoules of gas per year required by CS Energy. If enough gas reserves are found, it can then begin a feasibility study on building the 160 kilometre pipeline required to link Casino and Swanbank power station (near Ipswich).

Metgasco managing director David Johnson said 18 petajoules would be enough for the Swanbank power station to generate electricity for 200,000 homes.

Meanwhile, Metgasco still intends to build its own 30 megawatt Richmond Valley power station, which would generate enough electricity for 30,000 homes. He said they hoped to sign a long-term power purchase agreement with Country Energy to enable all the power generated to go into the northern NSW grid.

Under this arrangement power wouldnt necessarily be cheaper for Northern Rivers residents, but Mr Johnson said it should help stabilise supply.

Mr Johnson said they still had a long way to go. He said the gas was definitely there, however, there was a small chance the Queensland deal could still fall over.

The $11 million will cover the feasibility study and the drilling to know that we can justify building a pipeline and can deliver those quantities of gas to Swanbank power station, he said.

He said if the project came to fruition, the trickle down effect on the local economy would be significant.

If we proceed to full development, the estimated capital cost of the project, excluding the pipeline, is over $100 million, he said.

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