A Labor promise last week to ring fence $1.5bn for Queensland and Northern Territory gas pipelines sparked a brief share price flurry for 15 smallcaps, as investors jumped on what one gas exec called an industry “game changer”.

However, there are a number of moving parts that need to be managed before pipelines can be built.

Last week, Labor said if elected it would change the $5bn Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) into the Northern Australia Development Fund and prioritise $1.5bn to pipe gas from Queensland’s Galilee and Bowen basins to the east coast, and from the thus-far barely explored Beetaloo unconventional gas basin in the Northern Territory to Darwin and the east.

Yesterday, Blue Energy (ASX:BLU) managing director John Philips called the move a game-changer for the sector.

He said it would open an immediate 15,000 petajoules (PJ) of gas in the Bowen Basin that are ready to be developed now.

The Galilee is estimated to hold as much as 8000 PJ of gas resource. A resource is an estimate rather than a confirmed volume.

Who’s going to benefit most?

There are 15 small caps working in or around Queensland which have plans for gas production that range from wishful — Carbon Minerals (ASX:CRM) holds marooned licences for NSW coal seam gas, an industry the state effectively banned in 2013 — to operational as in the case of Senex (ASX:SXY).

Four companies would immediately benefit from new pipelines into the Galilee and Bowen basins: State Gas (ASX:GAS), Blue Energy, Comet Ridge (ASX:COI) and Galilee Energy (ASX:GLL). They’re the green and blue areas on the map further down in this article.

State Gas has not released a resource yet for its Bowen tenements, while Blue Energy has a 3,248 PJ resource there.

Comet Ridge has a 2,287 PJ resource in the Galilee basin and Galilee Energy has 2,508 PJ.

Cooper Energy (ASX:COE), Real Energy (ASX:RLE), Armour Energy (ASX:AJQ), Icon Energy (ASX:ICN), Metgasco (ASX:MEL), and Strike Energy (ASX:STX) are all in the Cooper Basin, which is linked to the east coast and the southern states via APA-owned pipelines.

Central Petroleum (ASX:CTP) is connected to a pipeline that starts in Alice Springs and heads up to Darwin.

Senex and Energy World Corp (ASX:EWC) are in the super well-connected Surat Basin, where Real also has some land.

Empire Energy (ASX:EEG) has a big stake in the Northern Territory’s McArthur basin, next door to the Beetaloo.

Putting in some pipelines

Despite a rash of red veins across southern and central Queensland, there is only one pipeline south, via Moomba in South Australia, and one north to Darwin.

APA (ASX:APA) owns most of the pipelines and Jemena owns the remainder of the most critical infrastructure, such as the recently completed Northern Gas Pipeline which connects APA’s Mt Isa infrastructure to APA’s Darwin-Alice Springs pipeline.

The thickest mass of veins lead to Gladstone, where the three LNG export terminals are and mainly connect to locations in the Surat Basin.

Labor wants pipelines to go through the green and blue areas.

The dotted line in the Bowen Basin is for a gas pipeline proposed by Shell-owned Arrow Energy, and approved by the state and federal governments, but which it hasn’t started yet.

Philips says it’s not in the interests of Shell and Petrochina, which own the majority of the licences in the Bowen, to build that pipeline yet.

Furthermore, the ACCC has already pointed the finger at Arrow for “gas warehousing”, saying it’s failing to develop its resources in the northern Bowen region even though the domestic market needs gas.

Possible pipelines could include a $4-5bn Jemena plan dubbed the Northern Growth Strategy which cut across the top of the Galilee and Bowen basins.

A spokesman for the company told Stockhead the newly launched Northern Gas Pipeline, which connected the Northern Territory to Queensland, was part of the larger plan, which they envision completing by 2025.

But he said putting infrastructure in depended on gas developers having fields ready to start producing.

Philips says the Bowen already does, and the Galilee is three to five years away.

What about the Beetaloo?

The Liberals promised $8.4m for studies to help open the Beetaloo unconventional gas basin in the Northern Territory for gas development, an area estimated to hold about 70 per cent of the region’s gas resources.

Labor wants its rejigged fund to pay for pipelines to connect that to Darwin and the east coast.

Origin Energy (ASX:ORI) and Santos (ASX:STO) are actively exploring the area now, and early results are encouraging, but any development is estimated to be five to 10 years away at the earliest.