What does a new gas discovery in Western Australia mean for consumers?

Oil and gas producer AWE has discovered a "significant" gas reserve under a Perth Basin well, the products of which, it says, can be cheaply and easily connected into existing gas pipelines.

The gas well, called Senecio field, had previously successfully intersected gas in its target zone, but the company made the decision to continue drilling deeper into the rocks below. This led to the discovery of gas zones bigger than the original target of the well.

These new zones have the potential to hold from 40 to 130 billion cubic feet of gas - more than what was targeted in the primary reservoir.

AWE is considering connecting Senecio Field to neighbouring Dongara Gas Plant in order to make the most of the new discovery, according to managing director Bruce Clement.

"Gas production from the Senecio field with a low cost tie in to the AWE-operated Dongara Gas Plant, 7km to the west, would be a logical first step in commercialising unconventional gas in the onshore Perth Basin and would reinvigorate the gas industry in the Mid West of Western Australia."

The September 2 press release also indicates the evaluation of this discovery is a priority for the company. A conventional flow test is planned for later in 2014.

However, this will not be measured by using the controversial method known as fracking. Instead, the oil well will be used as a future field development. Recently, AWE, which owns half the interest in the well alongside Origin Energy, has had a focus on unconventional gas such as tight and shale gas formations. However, the deeper sections found in this well in the latest drilling have good characteristics and will not need to be fractured in order to release the gas.

How will this discovery affect consumers?

The price of gas in Western Australia is one of the highest in the country, which means selling the gas from this well could be an attractive proposition, according to a September 3 article published in The Australian.

How can you keep gas prices low?

Across the country, the price of gas is skyrocketing because consumers are exposed to global gas market prices.

In fact, on July 1 the NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal's draft report indicated that retail gas prices will rise by 17.6 per cent in the next two years. This is an increase of between $150 and $225 on average.

However, there are a few steps you can take to lower your bills.

How can you lower your gas hot water bill?

As well making choices to reduce your water usage in general, there are a few other changes you can make around your home in order to decrease your gas use. 

You could consider installing a solar hot water system. These can be used to provide between 50 - 90 per cent of your hot water needs so you don't need to rely on gas to have a hot shower - of course, it is also important to keep your time under the shower short to save water!

Opt for an evacuated tube system as this can be used to heat hot water no matter the climate you live in. These solar hot water systems are able to use passive tracking in order to make the most of the sun's rays throughout the day. This makes them a more efficient choice in areas with a cooler climate. 

You may also want to wash your clothes in cold rather than hot water. The Department of Industry website Your Energy Savings says this could save around $124 over a year.

An energy-efficient washing machine could also aid you to reduce your bills. Make sure you read the star ratings. A five-star machine will use less water and power than  one with two stars.

What if you have a gas oven?

You can also make savings in your kitchen by keeping an eye on how you use your oven and stovetop.

For instance, if you are purchasing a new oven, look for an energy-efficient model. A fan-forced model will be able to use heat more efficiently, as will a triple-glazed appliance.

While gas ovens are more efficient than electric ones, however, it is still important to take care of this item. Make sure you check the seals to ensure no heat is escaping. You should also avoid pre-heating your oven unless it is necessary. When you have food in the oven, avoid opening the door to check its progress.

How can you cook more efficiently using gas?

A gas cooktop can save you money compared to an electric model, but there are always ways to reduce your gas spend.

For instance, it is essential to keep the flame directly under the pot or pan you are using and not let it run up the sides.

Using pots with lids can also help you reduce heat loss so you are cooking more efficiently. You should always aim to simmer rather than boil your food vigorously to save power.

Posted by Paul Doyle.