The Energy National Cabinet Reform Committee has greenlit a package of reforms to natural gas pipeline regulation, to reduce costs, enable access to pipelines, and boost market competition. 

The reforms agreed through the 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 $1 billion over a 20-year period and will help the nation recover from the COVID-19 recession.

Federal Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, 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,” Mr 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 (shippers), including on prices actually paid for services
  • Better support for commercial negotiations between shippers and service providers through improvements to negotiation frameworks and dispute resolution mechanisms
  • Improved access to pipelines, particularly for those that would not otherwise provide such access
  • Streamlined governance arrangements
  • Improved greenfield exemption to incentivise investment in new projects

The reforms are detailed in the Options to Improve Gas Pipeline Regulation Decision Regulation Impact Statement, which is now available on the Energy Ministers’ website.

Work to implement the reforms through the National Gas Law is now underway, and Energy Ministers expect a draft package of legislative amendments to be available to stakeholders for consultation in the first half of 2021.

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