Australia’s Competition Watchdog Launches Investigation into Gas Pricing Practices by Retailers

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The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has launched an investigation into the pricing practices of gas retailers, raising questions about potentially unfair pricing schemes.

On Tuesday, the head of Australia’s competition watchdog announced an investigation into the market behaviour of natural gas retailers. The agency expects the retailers to lower their prices to consumers in response to the cheaper supplies.

To ensure affordable prices and an adequate supply of natural gas for domestic consumers, the government has increased its monitoring of the gas industry, which includes implementing price caps and proposing expanded powers to limit liquefied natural gas exports from east coast facilities.

According to gas producers, the proposed measures would discourage investment in new supply, which is essential for the east coast, where most of the country’s population and gas-dependent manufacturers are located. 

Anna Brakey, the commissioner of the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC), stated at the APPEA industry conference that the government’s intervention aims to ensure an adequate supply of gas for east coast markets at an affordable price.

“Now, we will concentrate on the retailers,” she said.

According to Brakey, if retailers don’t lower gas prices for consumers, the watchdog will offer more suggestions to the government.

The leading gas retailers in the country are Origin Energy (ORG.AX), AGL Energy (AGL.AX), and EnergyAustralia, which is owned by Hong Kong’s CLP Holdings (0002. HK).

“We want the market to flourish and satisfy local and global demand,” she said.

“There will be a shortage in (gas supply) starting from 2027, but we are optimistic that new supply will become available to address this issue.”

As per a January report from the ACCC, the projected gas production needs to be increased to meet the expected demand on the east coast from 2027.
The ACCC investigation will help ensure that gas retailers are not taking advantage of consumers with unfair pricing and that an adequate natural gas supply is available at a fair price.

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