A DAY IN THE LIFE
JEMENA MD PAUL ADAMS
Currently developing the $800 million Northern Gas Pipeline linking the Northern Territory and Queensland, Jemena is fast-becoming one of the country’s leading energy distribution networks. Jemena managing director Paul Adams spoke to Elizabeth Fabri about the company’s plans for the year ahead and his views on how to address the east coast gas shortage. Q. Describe your education and professional background.
My formal education is in engineering (I have a First Class Honours degree), and I have also completed post-graduate studies in finance, management, change and governance.
My experience (real education) started when I was 16 with a traineeship in electrical testing. I continued to learn daily about the electricity and gas industry, having worked across energy generation, production, retailing, trading, privatisations, mergers and acquisitions, pipelines, networks, operations and in a range of corporate roles.
I became managing director of Jemena soon after its inception in 2008, and I am also chairman of both Zinfra and ActewAGL.
Q. What have been some of your biggest achievements so far at Jemena?
I’m very proud that the team here has been able to keep growing our business in an environment which is constantly evolving.
The pace of change in the energy sector has steadily increased over the past decade and it’s showing no signs of slowing down!
So we’ve had to learn to be agile to keep meeting the changing energy needs and requirements of our customers and the Australian community as a whole.
Right now the 622km Northern Gas Pipeline (NGP) is really exciting us – we’ve started work building something which has the potential to completely change the nature of the east coast gas market, and dramatically improve both gas and electricity security of supply and pricing throughout eastern Australia.
Q. Can you provide an update on the NGP construction?
Physical construction of the Northern Gas Pipeline (NGP) recently commenced and we expect to have the pipeline completed and first gas flowing in late 2018.
In late July, we shipped all of the approximately 34,000 lengths of pipe required to build the NGP to our Tennant Creek pipe stockyard, and work is underway on the construction of the pipeline as well as the Phillip Creek and Mt Isa Compressor Stations – both of which we expect to complete in 2017.
Our NT contractors McConnell Dowell are aiming to build about 200km of the pipeline this year and, together with our Queensland contractor, Spiecapag, should complete the pipeline by the end of winter 2018.
After testing and commissioning, we believe the first gas will flow to Mt Isa late in 2018.
Pleasingly, of the 900 jobs this project will create, more than 600 will go to locals, and we have already trained or employed almost 100 Indigenous workers.
Q. In May, Jemena announced it had entered an agreement to acquire Origin Energy’s Darling Downs pipeline network. What is the significance of this project?
The Northern Gas Pipeline and the Darling Downs Pipeline System (DDPS) are both key parts of our Northern Growth Strategy, in which we are seeking to develop an interconnected supply chain of gas transmission assets across northern Australia, through targeted acquisitions and greenfield developments.
Our Northern Growth Strategy is focused on providing a long-term solution to the current east-coast gas supply crisis, which will also help to lower gas prices for Australian customers. Right now we are integrating the DDPS into our portfolio of gas transmission assets which includes the Eastern, Queensland, and Northern Gas Pipelines.
We expect this transition period will be complete by the end of October, and east coast gas customers will soon begin to see the benefit of greater competition in gas midstream services in the region.
Q. What’s next for Jemena?
A potential expansion and extension of the NGP to the Wallumbilla Gas Hub would be capable of delivering more than 700 TJ of gas per day to the east-coast market and could play a significant role in resolving the east-coast gas supply shortage.
This extension could also bring currently undeveloped gas reserves in Queensland’s Galilee Basin to market as well.
Beyond gas pipelines, we are focused on innovation in our electricity and gas distribution businesses in order to capitalize on the massive technology shifts that are now gathering speed, so that we can deliver the greater empowerment and lower emissions that our customers expect.
For example, we’re enhancing our knowledge and capabilities in managing distributed electricity generation; while on the gas side we’re embarking on a major project to trial the integration of surplus renewable energy into gas pipelines as a renewable, carbon-free gas for storage and distribution by using Power-to-Gas (P2G) technology.
Q. What are your views on the looming east coast gas shortage; do you think current measures in place will be enough to secure domestic supply?
Our view is very clear. The bevy of regulatory controls introduced will not get to the heart of the issue. There needs to be new gas brought into the market to deliver a significant downward shift in east coast gas and electricity prices.
Fortunately Australia is blessed with significant further resources of gas, and most of it is in northern Australia.
The Northern Territory has existing gas fields which are a logical source of new gas for the eastern states network.
In particular, the Beetaloo basin between Darwin and Tennant Creek looks to hold enough gas to meet Australia’s needs for 30 years or more, and could thus re-shape the nation’s gas equation, in the event the moratorium on unconventional gas production in the NT is lifted.
Increasing the supply of gas from northern Australia to the Wallumbilla trading hub will also free up gas now flowing north-east from the Moomba gas hub in South Australia, and allow it to flow instead to customers in Australia’s southern states.
Wallumbilla is in many respects the future heart of Australia’s gas supply industry. Already 75 per cent of east coast production flows around Wallumbilla or Gladstone. So it makes sense to send any new gas through this hub.
Q. What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career similar to yours?
The first thing I’d say is – good choice!
The energy sector is critical to every aspect of life in Australia, and to our future prosperity. The sector is also going through massive change, development and disruption – all of which create unprecedented challenges and opportunities, at both a personal and an organizational level.
Personally I can’t think of a more rewarding sector to work in.
A solid grounding in both technical knowledge and strategic business skills is extremely useful.
But in many respects, the critical dimension that I’ve just alluded to is change, and being able to adapt to it, and indeed lead people and organizations to and through it.
And the last thing I would add is to learn to listen.
You will always need the support of the team around you, and to recognize their insights and contributions. And of course, your customers are the reason you’re here – it’s absolutely essential to listen to them! But you also need to form your own opinions, challenge others, and be creative in finding the way forward.
“There needs to be new gas brought into the market to deliver a significant downward shift in east coast gas and electricity prices.”