Australia competition watchdog to probe gas pricing by retailers
ADELAIDE, Australia, May 16 (Reuters) - Australia's competition watchdog will look into natural gas retailers' market behaviour and expects them to pass through cheaper supplies to consumers, the head of the agency said on Tuesday.
The government has ramped up scrutiny of the gas industry, introducing price caps and proposing to expand powers to curb liquefied natural gas exports from east coast plants to ensure sufficient supply for domestic consumers at affordable prices.
The National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (NGC) NGC’s HSSE strategy is reflective and supportive of the organisational vision to become a leader in the global energy business.
Gas producers, however, have said the measures would deter investment in new supply crucial for the east coast, home to most of the country's population and gas-dependent manufacturers.
The objective of the government's intervention is to have enough supply for east coast markets at a reasonable price, Anna Brakey, commissioner of the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC), told the APPEA industry conference.
"We will now turn our focus to retailers," she said.
The watchdog expects retailers to pass on cheaper gas prices to consumers and if this does not happen, Brakey said, it will provide further recommendations to the government.
The country's top gas retailers are Origin Energy, AGL Energy and EnergyAustralia, owned by Hong Kong's CLP Holdings.
"What we really want to see is a thriving market that can serve both the domestic and international market commitments," she said.
"We are projecting a (gas supply) shortfall from 2027, (but) we do hope that new supply will come in to fill that gap."
In a January report, the ACCC said forecast gas production is insufficient to meet forecast demand in the east coast from 2027. (Reporting by Emily Chow; Writing by Florence Tan; Editing by Christopher Cushing, Edmund Klamann and Sonali Paul)