Interim guidelines for gas industry after temporary price cap comes into force

17 January 2023

The ACCC has today published interim compliance and enforcement guidelines for the gas industry on the new Gas Market Emergency Price Order and explaining how the ACCC intends to exercise its enforcement role.

In December 2022, the Australian Government’s Gas Market Emergency Price Order introduced a temporary price cap of $12 per gigajoule (GJ) that principally applies to gas sold by east coast and Northern Territory gas producers and their affiliates to wholesale customers in Australia. The price cap will apply for 12 months.  

“Our guidelines are intended to support the gas industry with their obligations to comply with the new laws, so the country experiences the intended benefits from these emergency measures,” ACCC Chair Gina Cass-Gottlieb said.

“While our primary objective is to achieve compliance with these laws, we are ready to exercise our enforcement powers in response to any alleged contraventions, particularly if we become aware of conduct that may be intended to circumvent the price cap.”

The maximum penalty for a company that breaches the emergency price order is the greater of $50 million or three times the value of the benefit obtained, or, if that value cannot be determined, 30 per cent of the company’s turnover during the period it engaged in the conduct.

The price cap generally does not apply to supply contracts entered into before 23 December 2022 but may apply if a price provision in an agreement for supply in 2023 is varied. The price cap does not apply to sales of gas intended for international export.

The Gas Market Emergency Price Order allows gas producers and their affiliates to apply to the ACCC for a price cap exemption. Any parties that are granted an exemption will be listed on the ACCC’s public register.

As the ACCC hears from gas producers and users about their commercial negotiations with the price cap in operation, or observes matters of relevance to the operation of the new laws, it may update the guidelines if there are aspects that warrant refinement or clarification.

The interim compliance and enforcement guidelines are available at gas price cap.

Background

In December 2022, the Competition and Consumer Act (CCA) was amended to introduce a new part that relates to the gas market. Under it, the Minister can make orders, known as emergency gas market price orders, regulating the terms (including prices) on which gas is supplied or acquired.

On 23 December 2022, the Competition and Consumer (Gas Market Emergency Price) Order 2022 came into effect. The Order sets a price cap of $12 per gigajoule for a period of 12 months, governing the price of gas sold by gas producers to commercial and industrial users in Australia, such as manufacturers, gas-fired power plants, and energy companies.

The CCA was also amended to prohibit specified conduct engaged in for the purpose of avoiding the application of an order and to allow for a mandatory code of conduct to be introduced.

The ACCC is responsible for enforcing these new laws.

The ACCC’s ongoing monitoring role will highlight the cap’s impact on prices being paid by end users and inform a review to be conducted after the price cap has been in effect for six months.

Release number: 
03/23
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Media enquiries: 
Media Team - 1300 138 917, media@accc.gov.au

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