THE Northern Territory Government and private contractor Jemena are looking to ensure that local businesses have an opportunity to work on the world class Northern Gas Pipeline project.

The NT Government says a SME Business Investment Fund has been established with Jemena to help small to medium enterprises (SMEs) in the NT participate in the project which will pipe gas from the Treritory to teh eastern states.

Jemena was selected by the NT Government in November 2015 to construct and operate the 622km Northern Gas Pipeline (NGP), which will connect Tennant Creek in NT to Mount Isa in Queensland.

NT Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Business Peter Styles said the $800 million project would create a wide range of opportunities, particularly for NT businesses.

“The SME Business Investment Fund is designed to build the capacity of local business, giving them a better opportunity to secure contracts on the project,” Mr Styles said.

“Our vision for this project is that, upon completion, the Territory will have a critical piece of infrastructure linking NT gas with the east coast market, and that our SMEs will have gained additional experience and expertise, placing them in the best position to capitalise on future opportunities.

“Jemena and the Government have also signed a memorandum of understanding which sets out how we plan to work together to make our vision a reality.”

Mr Styles said the fund will be available to eligible SMEs to access business development programs including business planning, improving tendering processes and mentoring. These will be available through the Department of Business or other relevant entities.

“We have a fantastic working relationship with Jemena and the work they are already doing to ensure Territory businesses benefit from the NGP, even before the first piece of pipe has been laid, is to be commended,” Mr Styles said.

NGP Project Director Jonathan Spink said Jemena was committed to maximising the use of NT goods, services and labour on the project and working to build local business capability.

“Jemena has made the fund available to both NT and Mount Isa-based SMEs who can demonstrate their potential to supply goods or services to the project,” Mr Spink said.

“We are working closely with the NT Department of Business to implement the Fund and we acknowledge the significant and ongoing support provided by the NT Government.

“In partnership with the Business Development Officers and with the NT Chamber of Commerce, Katherine Regional Mining Services Association and the NT Indigenous Business Network, Jemena is committed to supporting local business.

“Jemena is also working with the Department to develop a Regional Employment Plan to help identify and create employment opportunities in the NT.”

Jemena estimates that approximately half of the 200 contracts available from the Northern Gas Pipeline could be delivered by Territory businesses.

The Northern Gas Pipeline is expected to be under construction early next year with first gas flowing in 2018.