Duke Energy sells State gas pipeline

Will Hodgman. (1/2)The new owner has also taken on Duke’s compensation burden and the sale has reignited debate over how the State Government has handled Tasmania’s gas roll- out and when compensation claims will be finalised.
Nanjing Night Net

At the same time, domestic distribution pipelines are being laid in Launceston and Devonport as part of a quest to get gas into 38,500 Tasmanian households by April 2007.

About 500 landowners were affected by the construction of the Tasmanian Gas Pipeline and a third of the compensation claims lodged with Duke Energy are still outstanding.

The State Opposition has written to Alinta seeking its word that compensation be paid in a timely manner.

The sale was yesterday called a “second chance” for Tasmania’s natural gas project but the Opposition fears that Duke’s “frustration” with how the project was handled will deter other companies from investing in this State.

In January, Duke claimed that the Tasmanian pipeline was one of its worst-performing assets, and the Greens yesterday said this was a direct slur on how Premier-to-be Paul Lennon handled the process.

Liberal leader Will Hodgman said: “While Duke may never say so publicly, it must have been extremely frustrated by Labor’s bureaucratic interference, incompetence and unprofessionalism at almost every turn.

“Mr Lennon, as the minister responsible at the time, must shoulder much of the blame for the stuff-ups and delays that have plagued this project and ultimately for the small number of customers who have so far taken up gas.”

Greens energy spokesman Nick McKim said he wanted to know what the sale would mean to Tasmanian taxpayers. “Taxpayers substantially underwrote Duke’s investment through secret contracts,” he said.

“The Government must now clarify the implications of the sale on those contracts and the extent of the potential taxpayer liability caused by the delays in rolling out the gas distribution network in Tasmania.”

The sale, which includes several other Australian pipelines and power generating plants in Australia and New Zealand, is expected to be completed in late April, though Duke said it could be as late as July.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.