28 February, 2024
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Gas shortfall concerns downgraded: ACCC


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Australia is in a better position to meet its local gas needs but big exporters will need to supply some of their uncontracted gas to domestic markets to make up the shortfall.

Last year, the consumer watchdog raised concerns manufacturers could go out of business unless a more affordable domestic gas supply was secured.

In its gas inquiry 2017-2025 interim report released on Friday, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said the projected supply shortfall had improved.

In July last year, a 56 petajoule supply shortfall was forecast. The east coast gas market is now looking at a 30PJ shortfall.

ACCC chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said the gas supply situation had improved but still relied on gas exporters supplying uncontracted gas to the domestic market and forgoing higher profits overseas.

“The east coast gas supply forecast for 2023 has improved but the outlook remains uncertain as the LNG producers haven’t yet committed sufficient volume under firm contracts to address the risk of a domestic shortfall,” she said.

Ms Cass-Gottlieb told ABC News she expected the LNG producers to make their uncontracted gas available to the domestic market as needed.

“Many customers have already contracted for 2023 but there is still an uncontracted portion and there is available gas to meet it,” she said.

About 30PJ is needed domestically from the 146PJ gas producers will have left over after meeting existing contractual obligations.

Last year, the government acted to shore up gas supplies and keep prices contained as the conflict in Ukraine ratcheted up international demand for gas and pushed prices to record highs.

In September, the government inked a heads of agreement with east coast LNG exporters to offer 157PJ of gas to the domestic market.

After troubling energy forecasts in the October budget, the Labor government introduced a $12 price cap on gas to keep costs under control.

But the new ACCC report revealed the strain big gas users were under before the government started intervening in energy markets.

Between March and August 2022, the average price of supply offers to manufacturers and other large users increased 88 per cent to almost $20 a gigajoule.


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