PM summons Curtis Island bosses for 'crisis meeting'

LEADERS from Gladstone's three $70 billion gas plants will meet with Australia's Prime Minister for a "crisis" meeting about the energy market today.

Malcolm Turnbull has summoned the CEOs from all three Curtis Island LNG plants to find a solution to the nation's looming gas shortage.

It's likely the gas leaders will use the meeting to highlight what they claim is the biggest industry issue; gas exploration bans.

One of Curtis Island's LNG facilities.
One of Curtis Island's LNG facilities. Santos

Shell Australia, part owner of QCLNG, country chair Andrew Smith said New South Wales and Victorian governments needed to be "held accountable" for placing moratoriums on gas exploration.

"Gas is becoming more expensive for a number of reasons including the linking of the domestic and international price, but primarily because deposits of gas in locations which have been 'easy' to explore and develop are drying up," Mr Smith said. "Their decisions will be felt the hardest by households, consumers and manufacturers especially in the years to come."

Market experts, including the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, say Gladstone's three LNG export sites are partly responsible for the domestic shortage by using more third party gas than expected to fulfill international export contracts.

Gladstone MP Glenn Butcher, pictured, has supported the region's three LNG sites, calling for other state governments to lift their exploration bans.

Yesterday his government responded to the looming shortage and said it would facilitate opening up its gas reserves in the Surat Basin. That was with strict Australia-only sale conditions.

A report from the Australian Energy Market Operator found New South Wales and South Australia could face supply risks as early as summer 2018-19, Victoria in 2020-21 and Queensland between 2030-36.

Mr Butcher said gas producers had "learned from the past" and in Queensland property owners had "done very well" by allowing drilling on their land.

"We are doing it right here in Gladstone and Queensland," he said.

CRISIS MEETING: The prime minister has summonsed those in charge at Curtis Island's three LNG plants to find a solution to the energy crisis.
CRISIS MEETING: The prime minister has summonsed those in charge at Curtis Island's three LNG plants to find a solution to the energy crisis. Paul Braven GLA281016TOURISM

It has been reported Mr Turnbull has also called on state governments to loosen restrictions on onshore gas exploration.

A domestic gas reservation policy is also being considered as a possible solution.

The three Curtis Island sites have copped pressure from the ACCC and some politicians, calling for more gas to be reserved for domestic use.

"Our worst fears are being realised," Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims said.

Mr Sims said Australia's gas shortage was at a "crisis" level and was worse than the ACCC forecast in a market report last year.

It's feared a nationwide shortage could lead to increased electricity costs and major power outages.

"If I was providing private advice to the LNG producers I would say they would be well advised to support the domestic market as much as they can at this critical time," Mr Sims said.

APLNG chief executive Warwick King said limited access to gas fields, development restrictions and increased regulation were the reasons behind Australia's energy crisis.

Santos, the owner of GLNG, declined to comment.



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