NEW SOUTH Wales Energy Minister Anthony Roberts has urged for more development of its domestic gas resources in preparation for a looming price hike, a call supported by the Australian Pipeline Industry Association (APIA).
Minister Roberts made the remark in response to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) draft report for NSW regulated gas prices for 2014-2016. The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal is responsible for regulating retail gas prices for around a quarter of residential and small business customers in NSW.
In the report, which is open for public comment, the IPART predicts average retail gas prices in the state may increase by up to 17.5% per cent over the next two years,
The IPART report cited the carbon tax, network costs, increasing demand from the LNG export industry and minimal domestic gas resource development in NSW as possible reasons for the foreshadowed price increase.
“In the longer term, we expect domestic gas prices to rise towards international levels, increasing the cost of supplying gas to small retail customers,” the report said.
“But again, there is considerable uncertainty about how fast and how far prices will rise.”
In a statement, Mr Roberts cited repealing the carbon tax as the solution to providing relief for NSW gas customers.
Mr Roberts said that nearly a third of the proposed gas price increase was due to the Carbon Tax.
“The sheer damage this tax is inflicting is becoming abundantly clear, with NSW gas customers slugged for Labor’s stubbornness,” he said.
However, Mr Roberts didn’t turn a blind eye to the state of its own domestic gas issues, acknowledging that NSW needed to grow its domestic gas resources to increase available supply to put downward pressure on gas prices.
“This is why the NSW Government is working with communities and the industry to establish a safe and environmentally sustainable gas supply for NSW residents, businesses and manufacturers,” he said.
APIA chief executive Cheryl Cartwright supported Mr Roberts’ call, but said more information was needed.
“It would be helpful to have information about gas availability that would demonstrate any increase in NSW supply would genuinely address any east coast gas shortfall,” she said.
“The eastern gas market transmission pipelines are linked; it is quite possible that gas from the NSW CSG fields could be transported to Queensland to fill contracts for LNG exports.”
While Ms Cartwright hailed the increase of export natural gas as a great outcome for Australia’s economy, she said it remained critical that there be sufficient supply of natural gas to also meet the demand of the domestic market.
“Another is access to shale gas and also the development and production of the natural gas already available in current gas fields.”
The final IPART report will be released in June.