Watchdog eyes wholesale gas market

The ACCC will review the east coast gas market, which is home to projects including the Australia Pacific LNG joint venture in Queensland.

The ACCC will review the east coast gas market, which is home to projects including the Australia Pacific LNG joint venture in Queensland.

By Courtney Pearson

April 13, 2015

THE Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will review the competitiveness of Eastern Australia’s wholesale gas market in the next year, under instruction from the Federal Government.

The 12-month inquiry will look at a range of issues including the availability and competitiveness of gas supply, transparency of prices, market structures and potential anti-competitive behaviour.

“Previous inquiries have been hampered significantly by a lack of information,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said.

“For example, conflicting accounts by industry players on whether gas is being made available, and at competitive prices.

“The ACCC has the tools available to gain the information that is essential to complete the task.”

The Australian Pipelines and Gas Association (APGA) stated the review would highlight work undertaken by the industry to improve market operation and answer some questions about the lack of a supply response to higher domestic gas prices.

“We are pleased the ACCC has been asked to look at competitiveness in the market and we hope that this is a first step to overcoming any barriers to development of Australia’s vast gas reserves,” APGA chief executive Cheryl Cartwright said.

“We have sufficient gas to meet the export and domestic demand. Perhaps we need to refresh the approach of gas development, such as encouraging smaller explorers to develop their reserves for the domestic market or providing access to major processors’ facilities.”

The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association said it was confident the review would find the eastern market is working.

The inquiry will report to the government in April next year.