ACCC won’t oppose Ironbark coal seam gas acquisition

Ironbark
Drilling crewman prepare to lift pre-collar pipe into position on a rig drilling for coal seam gas. Image: Lakeview Images / Shutterstock.com

The ACCC will not oppose Australia Pacific LNG’s (APLNG) proposed acquisition of the Ironbark coal seam gas project from Origin Energy (Origin).

APLNG is a large gas producer with significant gas tenements in eastern Australia. It supplies almost 30 per cent of the gas going into the east coast market, and processes the balance of its gas for export at its LNG facility near Gladstone, Queensland.

Origin is a 37.5 per cent shareholder in APLNG and is the upstream operator for APLNG, responsible for the development of its CSG fields in the Surat and Bowen basins and the main transmission pipeline that transports the gas to the LNG facility near Gladstone.

Ironbark is an undeveloped coal seam gas permit held by Origin, located in the Surat Basin. It has expected reserves of around 129 PJ of 2P reserves, which is approximately 0.34 per cent of total eastern Australian reserves.

Related article: Origin secures more gas for domestic users

In reaching its decision, the ACCC considered the effect of the acquisition on domestic gas supply and the level of competition between suppliers of domestic gas.

“We had regard to the relatively small size of the Ironbark project. We also considered the alternatives available to Origin to either sell Ironbark to someone else or develop the project itself,” ACCC Commissioner Roger Featherston said.

“In our view, neither of these alternatives would lead to a significantly different outcome for domestic gas users from that of the sale of Ironbark to APLNG.”

The ACCC concluded that the proposed acquisition would be unlikely to substantially lessen competition in any domestic gas market.

“However, we have long voiced concerns about the challenges facing east coast domestic gas users and will continue to closely examine the acquisition of further gas reserves by major LNG producers and the likely impact on competition,” Mr Featherston said.

Related article: Origin strikes gas in Carnarvon Basin