The State Government has made it easier for businesses to get access to surplus gas with the introduction of an online ‘bulletin board’.
Energy Minister Francis Logan said the new arrangement was a direct response to the current gas shortage and was designed to help Western Australian companies in need of gas.
Mr Logan said the Gas Bulletin Board would allow gas users and producers to make trades, facilitated by an independent organisation.
“The bulletin board, which is similar to those used in many jurisdictions around the world, is a simple, transparent, email-based system to bring buyers and sellers together,” the Minister said.
“The disruption to gas supplies because of the explosion at Varanus Island means it is critical to ensure that every terajoule of gas is made available to those who need it most.
“Despite the shortage, there are still days when some gas is available for spot sale. The bulletin board will provide a forum for this gas to be sold.”
The bulletin board will be operated by the Independent Market Operator (IMO). Each day, registered traders will nominate how much gas they are willing to buy or sell, and at what price. The IMO will then match potential buyers and sellers.
Eligible participants need to have a transportation agreement on the Dampier-to-Bunbury Natural Gas Pipeline or, alternatively, would need to participate through their gas retailer.
Mr Logan said anyone with internet access would be able to see the amount of gas available and the prices at which bids and offers had been made.
He said this would ensure that a transparent market and enable gas resources to be used most efficiently.
The IMO will immediately begin registering participants, with the first trades expected later this week. Interested parties should contact the IMO at 9254 4366 or GBB@imowa.com.au .
The Minister said that in the month since the Varanus Island explosion, the State Government had worked closely with industry and the community in general to minimise disruptions and successfully prevent blackouts.
However, he said many companies were still feeling the pain of the gas shortage and it was important for everyone to continue to help.
“Residential and small-use customers can account for up to 20 per cent of daily gas consumption at this time of the year, so savings across these sectors will assist in making gas available to industry,” Mr Logan said.
“Residential gas consumers have responded strongly, cutting their energy use by five to 10 per cent, despite the very cold weather.
“The response from electricity consumers has been equally encouraging, with broad support for energy-saving initiatives.
“Commonwealth, State and local government offices, the commercial property sector, universities and other organisations have also taken action to reduce energy consumption.”
The Minister said work was continuing in a number of areas to minimise the impact of the gas shortage, including:
· Verve Energy’s high-efficiency Cockburn gas-fired power station is now operating at full capacity;
· Kwinana power station’s coal-fired generating unit, which has been off for planned maintenance, is gradually being brought back on line and is expected to be at full capacity over the weekend;
· Unit 7 at Muja Power Station is being brought back on-line and will be increasing output over the next few weeks;
· work has started on the first of the Muja A and B 60MW coal-fired machines that were decommissioned last year. This could be ready for operation in about six weeks; and
· between 150 and 200 people are working on repairs at Varanus Island. Work is progressing well and it is anticipated that substantial gas will be flowing by August 15. Damaged pipes have been removed and a new section of pipe has been positioned ready for installation.
Minister's office - 9222 8950