4 October 2001

Promoting Competition in the NT Gas Industry

The Minister for Financial Services and Regulation, Joe Hockey, today helped to promote greater competition in the Northern Territory gas industry by certifying its Third Party Access Regime for Natural Gas Pipeline Systems.

The NT Access Regime provides the legal means for third parties, like gas retailers and industrial users, to negotiate fair access to the Territory's gas pipelines.

Natural gas supplies meet nearly a quarter of the NT's primary energy requirements and around 84 per cent of electricity in the Territory is generated from natural gas.

"Providing a clear framework for fair access to reasonably priced natural gas services in the Territory, encourages competition in the supply of natural gas. This creates the prospect of lower prices, improved choice and better service quality for both business and household consumers in the Territory", the Minister said.

Gas infrastructure usually involves significant set-up costs to investors, but is relatively cheap to use once constructed.

"The NT Regime will be certified for a period of 15 years, providing infrastructure owners, operators and users a degree of certainty in the regulatory environment, especially when developing new gas infrastructure", the Minister said.

The NT Regime is based on the National Gas Access Regime and complies with National Competition Principles. The National Gas Access Regime was endorsed in November 1997 by the Council of Australian Governments and is a key component to boosting competition in the natural gas sector and ensuring the best possible use of Australia's gas resources.

The NT Government submitted its access regime to the National Competition Council for assessment. The Council recommended that it be certified as an effective access regime under Section 44N of the Trade Practices Act 1974.

A copy of the Council's recommendation is available from its website at www.ncc.gov.au