PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Australian Energy Ministers have agreed to a major package of reforms to natural gas pipeline regulation that is expected to reduce costs of transportation and delivered gas, improve access to pipelines, and facilitate more effective competition in the gas market.
The reforms, agreed through a decision by the Energy National Cabinet Reform Committee, will deliver a simpler regulatory framework that will support the reliable and efficient use of, and investment in, gas pipelines.
The net benefits of this package of reforms have been valued in excess of A$1-billion over a 20-year period and will help Australia recover from the Covid-19 recession.
Federal Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor said gas pipelines are the crucial link between Australia’s gas production fields and the homes and businesses that use gas across the nation, and these reforms will increase price transparency and make it easier to do business.
“The natural gas transported through those pipelines is a critical enabler of Australia’s economy and helps to support our manufacturing sector that employs over 900 000 Australians,” Taylor said.
“It is crucial that the services provided by our gas pipelines are available to those who need them on fair terms, while regulation still encourages investment in new basin development.
“This package of reforms will see real price information, standard terms and service availability of pipelines being publicly disclosed. This transparency will empower users, improve competition and help to drive down prices.”
The reforms are designed to deliver more effective constraints on the market power of pipeline operators, greater transparency for users of gas pipelines, better support for commercial negotiations between shippers and service providers through improvements to negotiation frameworks and dispute resolution mechanisms, and improved access to pipelines, particularly for those that would not otherwise provide such access.
The reforms would also streamline governance arrangements and improve greenfield exemption to incentivise investment in new projects, Taylor said.
Work to implement the reforms through the National Gas Law is now under way, and Energy Ministers expect a draft package of legislative amendments to be available to stakeholders for consultation in the first half of this year.