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ACCC urges action to prevent gas shortages

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has issued an urgent call for action to boost gas supply and avoid severe shortages forecast to hit by 2027.

The warning comes in the commission’s latest Gas Inquiry report.

Australian Energy Producers chief executive Samantha McCulloch said the Governments cannot continue to ignore the warnings.

“Without immediate government action to address the looming gas supply crisis, millions of Australians face higher energy prices and the real risk of blackouts,” she said.

The ACCC report outlines specific measures needed from governments, including lifting moratoria on new gas developments, expediting approvals processes, and reducing infrastructure, regulatory, and capital barriers faced by producers.

The report highlights that even where gas has been committed under the Gas Market Code, “most of this potential supply is conditional on producers obtaining necessary regulatory approvals and making final investment decisions.”

McCulloch criticised the introduction of price controls and the mandatory Gas Market Code, stating that these measures have delayed new supply projects, and undermined the market certainty required for investment to address structural shortfalls.

Despite the dire warnings, the report estimates that the east coast gas supplies would be seven petajoules in surplus during the fourth quarter of 2024, indicating that the industry continues to deliver on its commitment to the domestic market.

McCulloch pointed to a recent incident where Victoria nearly ran out of gas due to strong demand for gas-fired power generation during a cold snap, calling it a “wake-up call that gas shortages and blackouts could happen as soon as this winter.”

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