18/09/2008 - 15:44

Business fears more gas shortages

18/09/2008 - 15:44

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Concerns about the possibility of more gas rationing in the next few weeks have been raised by some Western Australian businesses as major industrial users come back on stream before Varanus Island's gas output is completely restored.

Business fears more gas shortages

Concerns about the possibility of more gas rationing in the next few weeks have been raised by some Western Australian businesses as major industrial users come back on stream before Varanus Island's gas output is completely restored.

Two submissions this week to the federal parliament's Senate Economics Committee inquiry into the recent WA gas crisis have highlighted these concerns, linking them to rising demand as several big resources companies return to full operations.

The biggest of these is most likely BHP Billiton Ltd’s nickel operations at Kalgoorlie and Kwinana.

At the beginning of the crisis in June, BHP decided to bring forward major maintenance plans at its Kalgoorlie smelter, resulting in a four-month shutdown at its Kalgoorlie smelter, which also required a shut-down of its Kwinana refinery.

One to flag his concerns to the inquiry was Brian Backhouse, general manager of Dynea Australia Pty Ltd, a Dardanup-based producer of amino resins used for value-adding processes in the timber and alumina industries.

“The only concerns at present are in relation to the constant rumours that the gas supply is not certain, and that there is the possibility of future rationing as some of the larger industrial customers come back on line after extended enforced and maintenance shuts,” Mr Backhouse wrote earlier this week.

He said Dynea was not directly affected but was a supplier to major gas users whose demand could be impacted by energy interruption.

Another company to express its concerns to the federal senate inquiry was The Laminex Group, which produces particleboard and fibreboard at Dardanup and Welshpool.

“Furthermore, we have recently been advised by Alinta that further reductions in gas supply may occur during mid September and mid October,” TLG executive Bryce Nicholson wrote earlier this week.

“This is allegedly due to large WA industry players having to rearrange their working loads, which will put supply to and from Alinta under pressure meaning restrictions may once again (be) imposed.”

It appears gas supplier Alinta has been warning some businesses, apparently erring on the side of caution with its communication to customers.

But Alinta sales manager Ralph Bates said he was confident gas supplies would be maintained.

“Although we have only a partial restoration of gas supply from Varanus Island, we don’t envisage that there would be further disruptions for Alinta’s business customers at this time,” said Mr Bates.

 

 

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