A joint statement issued by Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt and Queensland Energy Minister Mark Bailey in early June announced that the Swanbank E Power Station (385 MW) would be recommissioned in the first quarter of 2018. Bringing the gas-powered station back online is part of a multi-faceted approach by the government to increase supply and reduce volatility in the energy market.
Stanwell Corporation withdrew Swanbank E from operation in late 2014 due to an over-supply of generation. Since then, Stanwell has been selling their gas to LNG exporters and the Brisbane Short Term Trading Market (STTM). Once back in operation Stanwell will no longer do this because the gas will be consumed by the power station. This will reduce the overall volumes sold to LNG exporters and the STTM. It is important to note that the Brisbane STTM is where gas powered generators buy gas from, particularly in periods of high electricity demand.
It will remain to be seen how effective the increased supply of electricity will be, considering the increased competition for gas in the Queensland market. If more gas becomes available from either increased gas production or government -imposed export restrictions, then we are likely to see prices and volatility reduce. Alternatively, the implications are likely to be modest if more gas isn’t made available.