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Warning for nation to step on the gas to ensure supply

The competition watchdog warns Australia may suffer domestic gas shortfalls by 2027.

The competition watchdog warns Australia may suffer domestic gas shortfalls by 2027. Photo: Getty

Australia is on track to meet its gas needs for the next three years but the competition watchdog warns shortfalls still loom longer-term without more supply.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s gas report released on Friday predicted a seven petajoule forecast surplus in the fourth quarter of 2024.

In 2025, a 54PJ surplus was forecast and a 69PJ surplus for 2026, the ACCC said in the latest iteration of its rolling inquiry into the nation’s gas supply.

Starting from 2027, the ACCC is tipping gas supply shortfalls unless new sources are made available.

“This is earlier than our last forecast – in December 2023 – of a possible shortfall from 2028, reflecting lower forecast supply due to delays in anticipated regulatory approvals for new projects and problems with legacy gas fields,” the report said.

A “range of policy and market responses” were needed to address looming shortfalls.

Resources Minister Madeleine King said the future gas strategy, released earlier this year, was all about shoring up the supply and affordability of gas in the medium term.

“Gas has an important role to play in our transition to net zero,” King said.

“The future gas strategy makes clear that we will need gas for some time yet to support renewable energy.”

More stability in international prices and the temporary cap on wholesales prices was helping to weigh on gas prices yet the ACCC said the role of the federal government’s code of conduct was still unclear.

After gas price spiked following the invasion of Ukraine, Labor installed an emergency price cap and then a mandatory code of conduct, which kicked in fully in September last year.

The latest ACCC report covered the first four months of the code, which effectively prohibits producers from supplying gas above a “reasonable price”.

At this early stage, it was not yet possible to draw conclusions on its impact on prices, the regulator said, yet it did highlight “continuing uncertainty in the market”.

“For example, there are relatively low volumes being contracted through long term gas supply agreements and fewer offers to market than in past years,” the report said.

“The gas market code’s impacts on the availability of gas and market prices are expected to be more clearly seen in the coming months.”

– AAP

Topics: Gas
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