The ownership and regulation of offshore gas resources is vested in the Commonwealth, while ownership and regulation of onshore resources rests with the states and territories.
Australian gas markets are governed under a national framework defined through the intergovernmental Australian Energy Market Agreement, the National Gas Law and the National Gas Rules. The National Gas Law applies in all states and territories, except Western Australia, which has adopted a modified version. Under the national framework:
- the Australian Energy Market Commission is responsible for rule-making and market development in gas markets, reviewing the energy market framework and providing advice to the Standing Council on Energy and Resources (SCER)
- the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) is responsible for the day-to-day operation and administration of the gas wholesale and retail markets in all jurisdictions except Western Australia and the Northern Territory
- the Australian Energy Regulator is responsible for the economic regulation of pipelines subject to regulatory arrangements under the National Gas Law, for gas transmission and distribution networks and for enforcing the National Gas Law and National Gas Rules in all jurisdictions except Western Australia.
The Western Australian Economic Regulation Authority regulates the western market (including gas pipelines), while the Retail Energy Market Company is responsible for retail market operation and settlement in Western Australia.
9.2.2 Gas market reform
Over the past 20 years, Australian gas markets have been subject to reform designed to support development in line with the long-term interests of users. So far, reform has been focused mainly on transmission and distribution competition and access issues. This has led to the introduction of national regulation of pipeline infrastructure to facilitate more efficient investment and operation of Australia’s gas networks.
In 2004, COAG made the Ministerial Council on Energy (now the SCER) responsible for accelerating the development of a -reliable, competitive and secure natural gas market-. The scope of the reform agenda expanded from networks to facilitating greater provision of market information and the establishment of new shorter term trading market options. Specific eastern market reforms in recent years have included the National Gas Market Bulletin Board, an annual Gas Statement of Opportunities and short-term trading markets in Adelaide, Sydney and Brisbane. A wholesale daily trading market was introduced in Victoria in 1999 and has subsequently introduced intra-day trading. A more recent SCER initiative has been the consideration of options for a gas supply hub trading market.
The Western Australian Government is developing a gas bulletin board and gas statement of opportunities for implementation by March 2013.