The State Government has announced a preferred corridor and operating model for a $135 million, 350km pipeline from Bunbury to Albany, which will supply more than 100,000 South West and Great Southern residents and businesses.
Attending a regional Cabinet meeting in Albany today, Premier Colin Barnett and Regional Development Minister Brendon Grylls announced the gas pipeline would service Manjimup and towns along the corridor, including Donnybrook, Bridgetown and Mount Barker.
"The Bunbury to Albany gas pipeline will deliver secure, reliable and safe energy to support future economic and population growth in the South-West and Great Southern regions," Mr Barnett said.
"As well as making reticulated natural gas schemes possible for householders along the pipeline route, it will create new opportunities for existing industries and attract new investment."
The Premier said the pipeline would be designed, built and operated by a private sector proponent.
The State Government, through Verve Energy, would retain an interest in the project in conjunction with the successful proponent.
Expressions of interest from qualified companies will be called in early to mid-November.
The successful proponent would identify an easement up to 50m wide within the corridor and be responsible for consulting and negotiating with landholders and communities, and for obtaining relevant environmental, Native Title and planning approvals.
The pipeline will have minimal impact on the environment and private land use.
Although the area will be protected under the Dampier to Bunbury Gas Pipeline legislation, activities such as cropping and grazing would still be permitted on land within the easement.
Mr Grylls said the pipeline would be built with capacity for further expansion to accommodate future gas requirements, including lateral pipelines to other regional centres such as Katanning, one of the initial nine WA towns preparing for growth under the Regional Centres Development Plan (SuperTowns) program.
"Access to internationally competitive gas prices will drive investment in value-adding and export production, including in viticulture, agriculture, mineral processing and timber industries," he said.
The Premier said the Government would co-fund the project through a mix of upfront capital and an ongoing subsidy.
The cost of the project, and the extent of the Government's financial contribution, would be determined as part of the tender process but early estimates were for a capital cost of $135 million, inclusive of construction, reticulation and conversion of existing appliances.