Duke Energy Begins Construction on Tasmanian Gas Pipeline

Duke Energy International has started on the A$400 million undersea gas pipeline that will deliver gas beneath Bass Strait to Tasmania for the first time. The project is due to deliver first gas in mid-2002 from the Longford gas facility in Victoria, a joint venture of ExxonMobil and BHP Billiton.

Duke Energy International chief executive officer Richard McGee said in a statement the 735 km pipeline was a step forward for the Australian energy industry. "It will fully integrate the gas markets of all southern and eastern states and creates a key link in the emerging south eastern gas network which will provide greater choice, flexibility and reliability of energy supply," he said. The Duke infrastructure project also includes the conversion of the Bell Bay Power station from oil-fired to gas-fired and takes the company's total investment in Australian natural gas pipelines to more than A$1 billion.

The Tasmanian government has called for tenders for a A$200 million project to distribute and retail gas in the state. Final bids are due at the end of February, with the successful bidder to be announced in April.