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Warning of winter gas shortages during extreme weather conditions



Millions of Australians face gas shortages during extreme weather conditions for the next three winters, the energy regulator warned today.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) is forecasting gas shortfalls starting this year and lasting until 2026 as offshore production plummets and extreme weather events continue, the Australian Financial Review reports.

The gas shortfalls will impact households in Victoria, NSW, South Australia, the ACT and Tasmania.

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AEMO chief executive Daniel Westerman said falling production in the Bass Strait, which has been the largest source of supply, is threatening shortages in the nation's south east.

"The risk of gas shortfalls each year from winter 2023 to 2026 in all southern jurisdictions remains under extreme weather conditions and periods of high gas-powered electricity generation, with those risks further exacerbated if gas storage levels are insufficient," he said.

Without new gas projects demand will outstrip supply on the east coast by 2027, the market operator warned.

In Victoria, the biggest consumer of gas where 70 per cent of households use the energy source, production this winter is set to be 16 per cent down on last year.

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AEMO said it was "critical" that the exporters of liquefied natural gas (LNG) make supplies available for Australian markets in coming years.

The warning about winter gas shortages comes after Australia's energy regulator flagged electricity prices will soar by 20 per cent for about 500,000 customers in South Australia, New South Wales and South-East Queensland.

Charities and social service groups are concerned rising energy prices will push tens of thousands more people into poverty.

Wesley Mission, Foodbank, the Salvos and others are already reporting a spike in people asking for help – many of them mortgage borrowers.

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