AN EXPANSION to the Eastern Gas Pipeline (EGP) that could increase capacity by 20 per cent has been opened by gas and electricity transport assets company Jemena.

The pipeline, which connects gas from Victoria’s Gippsland basin to the east coast market, supplies more than half the gas consumed in New South Wales – and has transported all of the state’s gas usage at times during the year.

Jemena spent almost $150 million to install two new midline compressor stations at East Gippsland and Michelago, plus additional delivery facilities at Wilton in the expansion.

The EGP pipeline will now be able to transport at least 22 petajoules per year more than previously, with Jemena managing director Paul Adams saying demand for gas remained strong despite a challenging outlook in the short term.

“We expanded the EGP so we can keep gas competitive by moving more much needed supply into NSW,” he said.

“Over the next five years, we expect to add more than 185,000 new customers to our network, so they can also enjoy the benefits of affordable, reliable, responsive and low emissions natural gas.”

Mr Adams said Jemena had committed to invest nearly $1 billion in its pipeline assets over the last few years, increasing capacity and establishing new delivery points to offer customers even more competitive and reliable transport and storage options.

Resources and Energy minister Josh Frydenberg congratulated Jemena on the expansion, saying it would bring gas to Sydney, Canberra and Wollongong and regional centres like Bairnsdale, Cooma, Nowra and Bomaderry.

“Australia’s eastern gas market is undergoing rapid and widespread transformation, particularly following the commencement of liquefied natural gas exports from Queensland heralding a new era for the gas market,” he said.

“Demand for gas in the eastern market will almost double from 965 PJ in 2015 to more than 1,900 PJ by 2018.”

“Continued investment in gas exploration, production, storage and transportation infrastructure, such as the EGP, is essential to ensure the reliable delivery of this vital energy supply,” he said.