Helping to ensure the integrity of the gas pipeline in NQ

Eyes on the pipe

The pipeline is owned by Palisade and is operated by AGL and Arrow Energy through a jointly owned company called EIM. TW Power Services is the maintenance provider of the pipeline.

TW Power Services makes regular checks of the pipeline, from the air and on ground. The organisation also relies on landowners whose property the pipeline crosses to be their eyes on-ground.

Plan to control erosion

The North Queensland Gas Pipeline (NQGP) is a 391km onshore natural gas pipeline system, with capacity to transport up to 108 terajoules of gas a day from the Moranbah Gas Project in the Bowen Basin to power industrial users in Townsville.

The pipeline runs through the BBB catchment. The LDC project and TW Power Services is working together to develop an erosion control plan for the easement that runs through the BBB.

The scope of works includes:

  • inspecting likely sites along the pipeline easement between Strathmore and Strathalbyn because there are a number of gully heads along this section that are expanding onto the easement. A remediation technical design will be developed for one site.
  • developing an erosion control plan for the easement that runs through the BBB (including an estimate of costs) with the aim to reinstate ground and halt further erosion that is affecting the ground level over the gas pipeline.
  • meeting and discussing the concept plan with NQ Gas maintenance crews and contractors (Townsville Earthmoving), and discuss amendments to the plan based on contractors capabilities, availability of material and budget.
  • completing the erosion control plan.

These activities were expected to be completed by the time this newsletter was published.

The project is keen to continue to work with NQ Gas and TW Power Services to coordinate and implement future erosion control works along the gas pipeline. The LDC project can also help landholders implement site-specific grazing management practices that can assist with gully remediation and other erosion issues along the pipeline easement. 

Erosion along the pipeline near the Burdekin River at Strathalbyn.

Finding common ground

The LDC project will never achieve the desired whole-of-catchment water quality and land management outcomes if the sole focus is on the grazing community.

In saying that – the project is not a finger pointing exercise – it’s about gaining an understanding of how other land managers operate, identifying a standard of practice equivalent to what is being asked of the grazing community, then ensuring those responsible for implementing and maintaining on-ground works have the knowledge and commitment to deliver at this level.

LDC has been fortunate to work with councils, mines, government departments and utility providers across the BBB catchment.

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Figure 1. Total fine sediment reduction by project type and erosion source. Inset shows the proportion of the total project area for each project type.

These estimates have been calculated using two methods: 

1) The pollutant reduction component of the Alluvium/Great Barrier Reef Foundation (GBRF) investment tool for hillslope and streambank erosion management projects; 

2) The Reef Trust Gully Toolbox method for gully erosion management projects. The LDC Water Quality Report 2020 (Waterhouse et al., 2020) highlights that a number of assumptions underlay these calculations, therefore these figures should be treated as the best available estimate of sediment reductions to date.

Preventing sediment from reaching the Great Barrier Reef

Each wet season sediment is washed into local waterways and out to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). 

Most sediment is very fine, and can stay suspended for a long time and can travel great distances. Valuable topsoil is lost from production, and increased concentrations on the reef can be harmful to seagrasses and corals. 

Landholders in the BBB have completed 69 on-ground water quality practice changes, and it is estimated that these have contributed a fine sediment reduction of 6,154 tonnes per year from reaching the GBR. 

Of this, approximately half of the sediment savings are attributable to grazing land management changes on hillslopes and streambanks, and the other half as a result of gully remediation treatments across a broad range of scales, as shown in the graphs above. 

The table below also highlights the relatively small area of intervention in the gully management projects compared to the large sediment savings that these can achieve - 60 per cent of the sediment savings over only 4 per cent of the project area.

Table 1. Estimated sediment reductions (tonnes) from projects completed in the LDC Project to date.

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*GLMWW = Grazing Land Management Wire and Water

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*The Exploring New Incentives activity area has provided an opportunity for graziers to adopt improved land management practices through a range of activities. For some of these properties, it was the first time they signed contracts for on-ground works.

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The LDC project monitors four gully sites (represented in this table) with gold standard equipment and analysis, carried out by CSIRO.

Results have been compiled in a preliminary report from Bartley et al (2020), with the final report expected to be released by the end of 2020. The preliminary report shows all four sites have indicators of improvements, notably the Strathbogie and Mt Wickham sites.

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Reef regulations - grazing, standard conditions

  1. For land in good or fair condition (more than 50 per cent ground cover at 30 September), continue using measures to maintain land condition.
  2. For land in poor condition (less than 50 per cent ground cover at 30 September), steps must be taken to improve land condition.
  3. For land in degraded condition (less than 20 per cent ground cover at 30 September), steps must be taken to improve land condition OR prevent areas from further degrading or expanding.
  4. Keep records of measures taken and also of agricultural chemicals, fertiliser and mill mud or mill ash applied to land.
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