Australia’s gas shortage for 2018 is worse than previously predicted: reports

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Gas supply
Pipes are pictured at the refinery of Austrian oil and gas group OMV in Schwechat, Austria, October 21, 2015. Reuters/Heinz-Peter Bader

New reports indicate that Australia’s expected gas shortage is worse than initially thought. The nation’s gas shortage next year is said to be more than three times larger than predicted.

This is according to new predictions announced on Monday by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Australian Energy Market Operator. Both bodies forecasted a shortfall of almost 110 petajoules of gas next year, which could be the same case as in 2019. It is about one-sixth of the projected amount of demand for gas here.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull warned about triggering gas export controls if exporters fail to make more supply accessible locally. It is expected to take effect from January 1, 2018 if he does take action. The government is expected to have further discussions with energy companies.

On Monday, the Aussie leader spoke with bosses of gas companies to seek plans on how they will avoid running out of gas for the domestic market. “We will not let the power bills of Australians rise further and further because of a shortfall of gas on the east coast of Australia,” Turnbull told reporters in Sydney on Monday, according to news.com.au.

He added that export controls will be imposed if there is no assurance from the industry that will satisfy the government and the competition watchdog, the ACCC. "We want to see a plan from them- we want to see a commitment- then we want to be satisfied that it meets the requirements of the ACCC," the ABC quotes Turnbull as saying. The goal, he said, is for the industry to fix the problem by agreement.

The prime minister also criticised the state governments for blocking gas developments and further limiting supply. He will reportedly again write to the premiers of Victorian and New South Wales and Northern Territory chief minister to encourage them to lift moratoriums on gas exploration and development.

Turnbull also appeared to express dismay about the Narrabri Gas Project not being approved quickly. NSW Resources and Energy Minister Don Harwin rejected his criticism. He told The Australian that the state had more projects in the pipeline compared to any other state.

Victoria’s Resources Minister Wade Noonan maintained that the state’s ban on fracking is legislated and supported by political parties. He told the ABC radio that the nation’s agricultural sector is important to the Victorian economy, and that attacking states does not show any leadership on Turnbull’s behalf.

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