Pipeline operators have invested extensively in natural gas transmission pipelines in Western Australia. This is because the State’s gas fields are so distant from major domestic gas customers in the South West.
There are four major natural gas transmission pipelines supplying the Western Australian gas market:
Other major transmission pipelines include the Kambalda to Esperance Gas Pipeline, the Mid West Pipeline and the Telfer Gas Pipeline.
In Western Australia, the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety licenses major gas transmission pipelines (pipeline systems operated at a pressure of 1.9 megapascals and above). It maintains a register with details on licensed petroleum pipeline operators in Western Australia.
The Economic Regulation Authority regulates third party access to both ‘covered’ gas transmission pipelines and non-covered pipelines in Western Australia, in accordance with the National Gas Law and National Gas Rules. The Economic Regulation Authority website [external] provides further details on gas access arrangements, including a list of pipelines covered under the National Gas Law.
For “non-covered” pipelines, regulatory changes were made in December 2017 to promote greater transparency and efficiency in the negotiation of third-party access in Western Australia. The changes impose requirements on pipeline operators to disclose
information on pipeline service pricing and contractual terms and conditions to parties seeking pipeline services. Where efforts to agree the terms of access through commercial negotiations fail, a binding arbitration process will apply.
The Western Australian National Gas Access (WA)
Act Amendment Regulations 2017 and the related National Gas Access (WA) Adoption of Amendments Order 2017, were gazetted on 22 December 2017 [external], and commenced on 23 December 2017. These instruments gave effect in Western
Australia to recent changes to the National Gas Law and National Gas Rules, with application from five months after the commencement date. Certain classes of natural gas pipeline will be exempt from the requirements.
The Economic Regulation Authority will administer the new rules in Western Australia and further information is available here [external].
The National Gas (South Australia) (Pipelines Access-Arbitration) Act 2017 was proclaimed on 1 August 2017 to give effect to the changes to the National Gas Law and National Gas Rules in jurisdictions other than Western Australia, with application in those jurisdictions from 1 January 2018.
The national changes implemented recommendations made by a review led by Dr Michael Vertigan AC, reporting to the Energy Council of the Council of Australian Governments.
The new rules also apply to a pipeline for hauling gas other than natural gas, only if the pipeline constitutes or is part of a system for which a licence is in force under Part 2A of the Energy Coordination Act 1994 (that is, a licenced gas distribution network).