By HARRY CLARKE

A NATURAL gas developer in the Surat Basin has secured contracts to continue feeding 80 percent of its product to the domestic market until the end of 2021.

Developer Senex’s Atlas gas field, about 20km south west of Wandoan, is the first natural gas acreage in Australia dedicated to supplying exclusively to domestic customers.

The company’s annual report released this week said gas production was fully contracted for the 2020 calendar year to “high quality customers”, which include state-owned power generator CleanCo as well as three building and glass manufacturing companies.

“We continue to negotiate new gas sales agreements with potential customers,” the report said of the remaining 20 percent of gas yet to be sold.

At peak production the Wandoan Atlas operation has the capacity to supply 32 terajoules per day, which is enough to power 220,000 homes annually.

The Senex report comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison this week announced a major new focus on gas development and improving competition in the domestic market, as part of a “gas-fired recovery” from the coronavirus recession.

“The Government will lean in with measures aimed at ensuring domestic users aren’t at a competitive disadvantage relative to their overseas competitors,” Morrison said.

“This is not about pitting LNG exports against domestic users. They both should be able to, and they must co-exist.”

Map of the north-western Surat Basin. IMAGE SUPPLIED

Stakeholders particularly in the manufacturing industry, which employs 225,000 Australians, are hoping the federal government announcement paves the way for more future gas projects being required to supply only the domestic market.

It was a condition under Senex’s Wandoan gas lease for produce to be sold exclusively within Australia.

The company’s managing director, Ian Davies, said further Surat Basin natural gas development would bring more benefits to regional Queensland.

“We welcome the federal government’s announcements to unlock new domestic supply and we are appreciative of the strong policy settings of successive Queensland governments,” Mr Davies said.

“With their support, Senex invested $400 million in its Surat Basin projects, completing them in less than two years to supply critical gas resources for manufacturers.

“We continue to increase our gas production and have further expansion plans, helping to sustain hundreds of jobs and providing economic benefits to Queenslanders for decades to come.”

A statement by Senex over the past 18 months 250 jobs had been created across its Surat Basin projects, which include the Roma North processing facility and comprise a total of 80 gas wells.

The statement said $37 million dollars had been spent with more than 50 business within the Surat Basin and Toowoomba.

A Senex drilling operation near the Roma North facility in the Surat Basin. IMAGE SUPPLIED

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