Government reaches agreement with Woodside and Esso to boost domestic gas supplies

Government reaches agreement with Woodside and Esso to boost domestic gas supplies
  • PublishedJanuary 22, 2024

The supply deals were made under the government’s Gas Market Code, which began operation last year.

That code set a price cap of $12 per gigajoule, but allowed gas suppliers to go above the cap, subject to ministerial approval, if they promised to prioritise the domestic wholesale market.

The wholesale market is where gas power generators and large businesses purchase gas. Any effect on gas or electricity bills for households would be indirect and is difficult to assess.

Energy Minister Chris Bowen and Resources Minister Madeleine King said the agreements would see over 260 petajoules of gas made available between now and 2033, enough to power all east-coast gas power stations for two and a half years.

“We introduced the gas code of conduct to anchor prices and ensure that international instability did not flow through to domestic gas users,” Mr Bowen said.

“We then introduction our regime of exemptions … to deal with predicted shortfalls and shortages.”

He said the agreements would provide “stability” to the market.

Last November, the ministers approved separate applications by Senex and APLNG, worth another 304 petajoules. Further applications are being assessed.

Code wars

The Gas Market Code, which was legislated in late 2022 and enacted in 2023, mandated transparency standards, conduct requirements and a price cap for gas producers.

After negotiating with the industry, the government agreed to add exemptions to the cap. Small producers who solely supply the domestic market were given a blanket exemption, and large producers were able to apply.

The Coalition did not support the code, arguing it was a heavy-handed intervention. The Greens have criticised the exemptions regime.

James Ha, research lead at Aurora Energy Research, said the exemptions “might help to alleviate supply shortfalls,” but were unlikely to do much for households.

“Two things matter. One is the price the gas is made available at, and if that is well above $12 that is not likely to be helpful for consumer prices,” Mr Ha said.

“The other issue is location. We’ve got quite a limited ability to transport gas from area to area when it’s most needed, so extra gas produced in one east coast state may have limited effect on the others.”


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