APA is the largest gas pipeline network operator in Australia. "With coal-generated electricity retiring over the coming decades, we remain highly confident in the critical role for gas as a source of timely, cost effective and secure energy," APA chief executive officer Rob Wheals said.
Australian utility Origin Energy brought forward its 2,880MW Eraring black coal-fired power plant's closing date from 2032 previously to August 2025 last week. Fellow Australian utility AGL Energy was subject to a takeover this week from a consortium that intends to shut AGL's coal power plants by 2030 instead of 2045 at present.
"It is an essential companion for the ongoing growth in renewable energy. Gas is also the critical energy source in high heat and hard to abate sectors, supporting Australia's industrial businesses," Wheals said.
But APA has also continued to invest in renewables, battery storage, micro-grids and electricity transmission, Wheals said in a statement accompanying APA's first half financial results for the 2021-22 fiscal year to 30 June.
The firm reported a net profit, including significant items, of A$155.6mn ($112.4mn) in the first half of 2021-22 from a net loss of A$15.5mn, which was impacted by a non-cash impairment of A$249.3mn recognised against the Orbost gas processing plant during the previous corresponding period.
Capital expenditure rose to A$403.3mn in the first half of 2021-22 from A$245.7mn in the same period a year earlier, with around A$58mn spent on capacity upgrades in its eastern Australia gas pipeline network.
The first stage of expansion works is expected to increase gas pipeline capacity from Wallumbilla in southern Queensland to Wilton in New South Wales (NSW) by 12pc and is targeted for commissioning in January-March 2023, ahead of forecasted southern state winter supply risks identified by the Australian Energy Market Operator (Aemo).
APA also plans to expand its business into electricity infrastructure and has bought the debt of a firm that owns and operates Basslink, a 370km high voltage direct current electricity interconnector between the Australian island state of Tasmania and mainland Australian. APA owns 100pc of Basslink's debt with a value of A$623.7mn.