AUSTRALIA’S gas shortage for 2018 is more than three time larger than forecast earlier in the year.
Governments are scrambling to respond to the predictions revealed on Monday from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and the Australian Energy Market Operator, which are much worse than expected.
They both predict a shortfall of nearly 110 petajoules of gas in 2018 and similar in 2019.
This is about one-sixth of the projected amount of demand for gas in Australia.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has already threatened to trigger gas export controls if exporters fail to make more supply available locally.
But this won’t take affect until January 1, 2018 even if he does take action.
Mr Turnbull spoke with gas companies on Monday and will talk to their bosses again during the week, seeking concrete 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,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in Sydney on Monday.
“If we are not able to receive the assurances from the industry to our satisfaction and that of (competition watchdog) the ACCC, then we will impose those export controls.”
ACCC chairman Rod Sims said this could be significantly reduced if expected sales on international LNG spot markets were instead redirected to the domestic market.
He wasn’t sure why this hadn’t happened already.
Labor has been scathing of Mr Turnbull’s approach, saying the nation needs a formal declaration of a shortfall, not just talk.
“It’s not enough for the prime minister to continue to call in business industry chiefs … and assume that wagging his prime ministerial finger and giving them a stern talking to is going to deliver action,” opposition energy spokesman Mark Butler told reporters in Adelaide.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, who has called for weeks for the government to pull the gas trigger, took a break…