AUSTRALIAN major Santos is making significant headway at its part owned US$18.5 billion GLNG export project off the coast of Gladstone, with natural gas being fed through the gas transmission pipeline for the first time via its primary compressor station in the Fairview field in south-west Queensland.

The milestone, achieved in October, was hailed by Santos downstream GLNG vice president Rod Duke as another important step towards achieving first shipments of liquefied natural gas from Gladstone harbour next year.

“Commissioning of our pipeline is an important milestone, not only for our business, but the Queensland LNG industry as a whole,” he said.

The pipeline will now be progressively filled with gas, with first gas into the Santos GLNG plant scheduled for later this year.

Once fully commissioned and in operation, the 420-kilometre pipeline will transport up to 40 million cubic metres of natural gas each day from the GLNG gas fields to Santos’s gas liquefaction plant on Curtis Island where it will be cooled to minus 161 degrees celsius and shipped to customers as LNG.

To illustrate the magnitude of the project, Mr Duke the company and the project joint venture partners had welded more than 36,000 segments of 1.05-metre diameter pipe, weighing in excess of 250,000 tonnes.

“Building such a big pipeline is no easy task,” he said.

“We’ve also individually negotiated land access agreements with more than 120 landholders, and we’re proud of the strong relationships we’ve built with property owners and local communities over this time.”

Construction of the pipeline began in 2012, with the project clocking up more than six million hours of work. The task underpinned the creation of more than 2,000 jobs.

Mr Duke said work in Santos GLNG’s gas fields across the Bowen and Surat basins and construction of the LNG plant at Curtis Island were also progressing strongly towards first LNG in 2015.

Saipem Australia constructed the pipeline for Santos GLNG.