Election pledge for gas line has urea plant on agenda

Kate FieldingSouth Western Times

Perdaman Industries has confirmed its multi-billion dollar urea manufacturing plant for Collie would be back on the table if a gas pipeline was extended to the town.

Chief executive officer Vikas Rambal also told the South Western Times yesterday how “emotionally draining” it had been after several painful years of trying to get the project off the ground.

The $3.2 billion coal-to-urea plant would create more than 2000 jobs during the three-year construction phase and 250 permanent jobs in an economically struggling town, according to Mr Rambal.

It is predicted the plant would generate more than $800 million a year in export earnings for the State.

“Unfortunately Collie is not getting ahead with coal,” Mr Rambal said.

“A gas pipeline is the ultimate solution along with a domestic gas supply, then we can reconsider this project.”

Collie-Preston Nationals candidate Monique Warnock has promised a $50 million commitment if elected for the Dampier to Bunbury gas pipeline to be extended to Collie along with a Compressed Natural Gas network.

Mr Rambal said a pipeline would put the urea project into motion.

Responding to whether he was frustrated by the delays in getting the project up and running, Mr Rambal said he would “use a much stronger word”.

“It’s been emotionally draining for families to invest so much time and money, but hopefully this is progress,” he said.

Construction of the pipeline would need a domestic gas supplier and while a company has not been locked in, Mr Rambal said he was confident it would happen.

Liberal candidate Elysia Harverson said there was not sufficient usage in Albany to justify an extension to Collie, but if it was viable in the future she would fight for it.

“The Government is continually exploring options to see if it is financially viable to construct a gas pipeline,” Ms Harverson said.

Collie-Preston MLA Mick Murray said he was “sceptical” of the project and accused the Nationals of playing politics.

“I would love to see the project happen, but it’s a pretty long bow to stretch when you’ve got to wait for the attachments – like the sale of Western Power – that come with it,” Mr Murray said.

“While most people in Collie would be happy, there’s a couple things that concern me.

“It could actually be detrimental to the coal industry – it does nothing for mine workers.

“And five years ago urea was $500 a tonne, now it’s $170 a tonne, which makes me sceptical whether the project would stack up.”

Mr Murray questioned why the Liberal-National Government had not prioritised the pipeline in the past eight years.

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