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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has released its Gas Market Inquiry Report 2017-2025.

The Report highlighted an improvement in the gas supply outlook across the East Coast market in 2020, with a supply shortfall unlikely in the short-term.

The ACCC said LNG producers are forecast to have enough gas to meet both domestic and export commitments in 2020. Projected domestic supply for 2020 is 2025PJ, while demand is forecast to only be 1831PJ. 

LNG producers are also expected to have 138PJ of available gas in excess of their contractual commitments, which could be used to supply the domestic market.

However, the long-term supply outlook for southern states remains tight, highlighting the Government’s ongoing call for jurisdictions to remove blanket bans and moratoria on onshore and unconventional gas developments.

The report found that the capacity trading reforms, introduced in March 2019, have had positive results in their first eight months of operation, particularly for the Day-Ahead Auction mechanism.

The ACCC also reports that there has been a continued decline in LNG netback (export parity) price expectations for 2020. However, domestic price offers have not fallen in line with this drop.

The ACCC found that producer price offers were almost 25 per cent above expected 2020 netback prices. In the ACCC’s ongoing netback price series, the latest average expected price over the 2020 calendar year is $4.78 per gigajoule (as at 31 January 2020). 

The Federal Government and the ACCC will continue to monitor this situation as a priority in 2020 to ensure gas producers are fairly passing on these price reductions to commercial and industrial (C&I) gas users in their gas supply contracts.

Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, said the ACCC would continue to monitor developments in Australia’s gas markets to ensure Australia’s consumers benefit from competition.

“The Morrison Government’s plan for a strong and competitive energy market is lowering power prices, helping families with cost of living pressures and supporting small businesses so they can take advantage of new opportunities and employ more people,” Mr Frydenberg said.

Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Angus Taylor, said the ACCC report found an improvement in the gas supply outlook when compared to the last report in July 2019.

“This is good news for households and businesses in eastern Australia as increased supply drives down prices. That’s why we signed our landmark state deal with New South Wales to get more supply into the market,” Mr Taylor said.

“The ACCC has also found that gas retailers have the ability to absorb potential cost increases by reducing their considerable margins rather than passing on costs to consumers. I strongly urge the same benefits to be passed on to manufacturing and industrial users, who may not be receiving a fair deal in long-term contract negotiations with gas suppliers.”

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia, Keith Pitt, said the ACCC report follows the release of a comprehensive review of the Australian Domestic Gas Security Mechanism (ADGSM) in January 2020, which found the ADGSM had helped lower domestic gas prices and secure gas supplies for Australian consumers.

“The review of the ADGSM shows the Morrison Government is determined to secure domestic gas supplies in the face of increasing demand for exports and keep prices as low as possible for Australian consumers,” Mr Pitt said.

APPEA Chief Executive, Mr Andrew McConville, said the ACCC report showed the industry has substantially increased the flow of natural gas to the east coast domestic market, and this will continue into the future.

“The ACCC finds that prices have eased since early 2017, with producers – particularly Liquified Natural Gas producers – making significant volumes of additional gas available to the local market,” Mr McConville said.

“More recent data shows prices continuing to head down. Prices for the Brisbane short‑term trading market, for example, are around their lowest levels since 2016 and well below LNG netback prices, while the Australian Energy Regulator reported this week that wholesale gas prices continued to trend down, with prices falling for the fourth consecutive quarter  in Victoria and Sydney.”

The September 2018 agreement between LNG exporters and the Australian Government – which remains in place for 2020 – ensures that any uncontracted gas is offered to domestic customers first.

“To ensure the investment needed to continue to bring new supply into the market occurs, it is important governments ensure the investment regime in Australia is supportive and resists the temptation to intervene further in the market,” Mr McConville said.

The ACCC will also continue to monitor price offers and market shares to identify any potential competition concerns.

The Gas Inquiry 2017-2025 Interim Report is available here

The review of the ADGSM is available on here.

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