Gas supply crunch shows need for coal insurance

WA Liberal Leader and Shadow Energy Minister Dr David Honey MLA said that Minister Johnston’s repeated statements that gas supply disruptions will not impact our State clearly demonstrates that he does not have his ‘finger on the pulse’.

The Premier needs to appoint a Minister who has the time to do the job properly.

As also stated by Shadow Treasurer the Hon Dr Steve Thomas MLC, the contradictory statements by Minister Johnston are a symptom of an energy system under Labor which is being poorly planned and badly managed.

“Western Australia is currently experiencing energy supply problems from three different gas supply sources,” said Dr Honey.

“The situation underscores the risk to our electricity supplies with Labor’s planned closure of the Collie coal-fired power stations which should be kept as an insurance policy against gas supply shortages as we go through our renewable energy transition.

Three gas supply problems overlapping at a single point in time highlights the enormous risk of having all our reliable electricity capacity dependant on gas.

“We are fortunate that the weather so far this Summer has been mild and much of our electricity demand has been met with the current limited supply.

“Whilst the Minister may say that households are not impacted, the current gas shortage is creating major problems for industry and our State economy. Alcoa, for example, is cutting production at its Kwinana alumina refinery due to the lack of gas supply,” said Dr Honey.

In late November 2022, gas supply from Varanus Island was cut due to a leak at the John Brooks platform.

That incident reduced gas supply to around half of the daily requirement. The repair was forecast at 4 – 6 weeks meaning it should soon be coming back online.

Santos’ Devil’s Creek plant is also currently impacted by interruptions, producing only about 20% of usual output.

Chevron’s Wheatstone domestic gas supply plant is also shut down currently due to equipment failure and maintenance.

It has been reported that Wheatstone is expected to return to production this week at about 20% capacity building to 100% by Friday.