Skip to main content

The pipeline network behind Australia’s growing coalbed methane industry

World Coal,

The continued development of the coalbed methane (CBM) industry in Australia has given a boost to many companies, not least those involved in the pipeline industry.

As the Queensland Curtis Island CBM – LNG project makes progress, the largest CBM gathering network in Australia has developed – covering an area of more than 16 500 km2.

As companies drill for and extract gas from Australian coal seams in the Surat and Galilee Basins, pipelines are needed to bring all the gas to terminals, such as the one at Curtis Island.

When the CBM pipeline is completed, it will transport the coal seam gas to a series of field compressor stations, with associated water from the extraction process stored in holding ponds or piped to water treatment plants.

The large-scale project is a significant undertaking, and has kept Murphy Pipe and Civil (MPC) pipe crews busy for nearly three years.

The firm has laid around 3500 km of pipe across the Surat Basin’s CBM fields. The pipeline is made up of multi-diameter pipe lengths, which range between 110 – 630 mm.

In an interview with The Australian Pipeliner, MPC’s director, Tony O’Sullivan, explained the company had found it necessary to modify its installation methods to ensure the different pipe diameter variations in an efficient manner.

As many companies involved in CBM are discovering, the ability to adapt to changing circumstances and situations is vital if projects are to be successful. O’Sullivan explained that MPC uses “ a combination of approximately 50-50 of conventional trench and bury methods using excavators, as well as trenchless technology using our fleet of Spiderploughs.”

It’s a method that has proved successful as it allows MPC’s plough crews to gain significant productivity rates when working on long, linear routes, but also allows the firm’s excavator crews to use traditional methods when encountering hard rock or river and road crossings.

“Both these installation methods have merit and work well, but it’s when you use them in unison and apply each one to situations that provide optimum efficiency, that you get the best results,” O’Sullivan said.

Using a combination of both conventional methods and new technology has allowed the firm to achieve what O’Sullivan believes is a world polyethylene (PE) pipe record when they installed 17.8 km of pipe in a single 12 hour shift.

The company has achieved an average of 4 km pipe laying per day and it is clear O’Sullivan is proud of his company’s achievements, explaining that his biggest success has been “the massive effort that our teams have put in day in, day out.”

“I’m very proud of what they have achieved over the years. It’s a massive job and they have really stepped up to the plate and played a big part in the development of Queensland’s [CBM] industry,” O’Sullivan said. 

Edited from various sources by Sam Dodson

Read the article online at:


Embed article link: (copy the HTML code below):