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Unreliable gas supplies affect food and beverage industry

01 August 2008

A natural gas plant shut down by an explosion that wiped out nearly a third of Western Australia's gas supply two months ago will be reopening shortly to resume partial operations. However, Western Australia’s food and beverage manufacturing sector still faces serious uncertainty, despite the State Government’s recent ‘Gas Bulletin Board’ initiative.

Unreliable gas supplies effect food and beverage industry
Unreliable gas supplies effect food and beverage industry

Ms Andrea Berteit, Chief Executive Officer of the Food Industry Association WA, said: “Our businesses have reviewed the option to utilise the Gas Bulletin Board to get access to more gas, but it doesn’t appear viable for our situation and circumstances where our businesses need access to secure and consistent supply that allows us to plan a week ahead - not just a day. It doesn’t go far enough in helping our sector deal with the current gas shortages.”

The establishment of the Gas Bulletin Board does not guarantee the availability of gas to buyers. “The food and beverage industry relies on a consistent and reliable flow of energy as we deal with perishable goods. Unreliable supplies make it very difficult to plan the production process, and we also risk significant wastage of valuable food products,” Berteit said.

“Unreliable energy supplies result in less production, and this could both endanger the State’s valuable export reputation as well as increasing the cost to consumers. What’s really needed is a secure allocation of gas so that food and beverage manufacturers can plan with confidence,” she concluded.

The Gas Bulletin Board is operated by the Independent Market Operator, and facilitates the trading of natural gas between buyers and sellers. The minimum trade allowed has been dropped from 0.5 TJ to 0.1 TJ a day and actual trade arrangements are negotiated between buyers and sellers. Bids close daily at 11am with the successful bidder notified at 12 noon about the supply for the next gas day starting at
8am. This does not allow for sufficient planning for a perishable supply chain.

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