1304.5 - Stats Talk WA, Sep 2008  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/09/2008   
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Gas Disruption
Stats, Stats, Stats: It's A Gas, Gas, Gas!

WA Gas Supply Disruption
On 3 Jun 2008, a pipeline rupture resulted in an explosion at the Apache Energy Varanus Island facility, Western Australia’s second largest natural gas plant. The explosion led to the evacuation of 152 Apache employees from Varanus, a tiny island situated about 100km offshore Karratha, to Chevron’s nearby Barrow Island oil production facility and then later to Perth.

As a result of the explosion, WA experienced a reduction of roughly 30% of its regular gas supply during the peak winter months.This impacted directly on a significant number of WA businesses and subsequently flowed on to affect the community and other businesses indirectly related.

The explosion prompted the WA Government to devise an action plan in order to minimise the effects of the incident. WA Premier Alan Carpenter announced a range of initiatives, including accessing gas from alternative gas suppliers and bringing a major coal-fired power station, which was closed for maintenance, back into operation. He also asked householders to be mindful of their electricity and gas use, saying that the energy saved through more efficient residential use could be diverted to industries in need.

Assessing the Impact
Despite the known immediate effects caused by the incident, the WA government was in need of a greater, more in-depth level of information to fully understand the impact on businesses and the community.
The collection of relevant, accurate and timely information was needed to assist the Government in making informed decisions in relation to the gas supply disruption.

The ABS was requested to offer assistance to the Government in relation to measuring the economic impact of the domestic gas supply disruption. The assistance principally consisted of the ABS becoming a member of the Gas Supply Disruption Recovery Group, as well as the provision of an outposted ABS officer within the Department of the Premier and Cabinet (DPC) to coordinate statistical advice.

The outposted Officer, Greg Hilton, said “it was impressive to see how the various government agencies and the business community were able to work together to ensure that information was made available to assess the situation.”

Greg’s outposting at the DPC is not the first time that the ABS has been requested to assist other bodies. Recently, the ABS has positioned officers the Institute of Child Health Research, the Department of Industry and Resources, the Department of Housing and Works and the Department of Sport and Recreation to name a few.

A rise in the popularity of ABS outpostings has resulted from the increased recognition of the benefits that statistics can have when people are seeking to formulate evidence based policies.

ABS outposting programs are tailored to suit the needs of the agency within which the ABS officers have been deployed. They can be best utilised if an agency has a specific project or strategy that requires informed decision making needing statistical reinforcement.

If you are considering the use of an ABS outposted officer or would like further information about ABS outpostings, please contact Wavne Rikkers on (08) 9360 5385.