A gas stove ring.
The Australian Energy Market Operator has warned of gas supply shortages in eastern states. Image by Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS
  • politics

PM calls for more gas supply amid operator warning

Andrew Brown June 21, 2024

More gas supply is needed along the east coast, the prime minister says, while hosing down concerns about shortages.

The comments came after the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) issued a warning about gas supply levels in eastern states in coming months.

“Recent gas supply and demand trends for the southern jurisdictions indicate there is the potential for gas supply shortfalls due to the depletion of southern storage inventories,” the market operator said in its report.

“The likely duration of the identified risk or threat is from June 19 and is expected … to continue until no later than September 30.”

The market operator said the warning was prompted by a rise in demand for gas due to recent cold weather as well as outages at a gas plant in Victoria.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the government would work alongside the market operator on gas supply.

“We’ll work those issues through with AEMO, it’s AEMO’s job to undertake these measures and provide this information … this is not the first time that (the gas shortfall warning) has been declared,” he told ABC TV on Friday.

“We need more gas in the east coast market, that has been known for some time.”

The federal government unveiled its gas strategy in May, which said new gas fields needed to be developed as part of the electricity system heading toward 2050.

“We understand that we need more supply. Gas has an important role to play in manufacturing in particular, but also in providing firming capacity for the renewables rollout,” Mr Albanese said.

Leader of the Opposition Peter Dutton.
 Peter Dutton says a gas shortage warning shows the need for other forms of energy. Image by Bianca De Marchi/AAP PHOTOS 

As the coalition released plans on Wednesday to build seven nuclear power plants, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said the warning from the market operator served as a reminder of the need for other forms of energy in the grid.

“The independent regulator is warning that we’ll get blackouts and brownouts under this government,” he told Nine’s Today program.

Chief executive of Australian Energy Producers Samantha McCulloch said gas generators were working to meet the increased demand in winter.

“Gas producers are doing everything they can to meet the heightened demand and to keep Australian households warm and businesses running,” she said.

“Peak winter gas shortages and a fragile electricity network should come as no surprise following repeated warnings from AEMO, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and other independent experts.”