Queensland gas prices plunge, and generators splurge

Dirt-cheap gas in Queensland is driving similarly low electricity spot prices, punctuating a longer trend towards higher gas usage in the state's generation.

Watt Clarity

The current talk about gas prices rising to LNG netback once the shiny new LNG plants come onstream has been the backdrop to some of the lowest gas prices we can remember seeing at the Brisbane hub since we first started tracking the gas market with the GasWatch product a couple years ago.

Here’s a snapshot on Friday of gas prices at only $1.02/GJ (no, that’s not a misprint!). A big contrast to the $4.10/GJ prices in Victoria, driven by (at least in part) high heating demand with the cold weather.

GasWatch highlighting what we have not seen very often - gas prices at $1/GJ

This has been happening for a little while (though not to the extent that we saw on Friday).

So what’s Queensland doing with these volumes of dirt-cheap gas?

Well, burning it in the electricity market, for one thing – which is one reason why we’ve seen such low prices in the electricity market, as well.

Here’s a NEM-Watch snapshot of the 12:40 dispatch interval on Friday highlighting how Queensland prices had not risen above $40/MWh for more than a week, and were sub-$25 at the time of the snapshot:

NEM-Watch snapshot showing low prices in Queensland today, in conjunction with high gas-fired production levels

Powering up NEM-Review and looking back over the past 13 months, we see a definite trend towards higher gas usage in generation. 

Even taking into account that not all these stations are supplied from the short-term trading market, we can see the significance of these gas burn numbers in relation to the quantities shown in GasWatch above for the Brisbane hub.

(a) 174TJ ex-ante supplied Thursday; compared to

(b) 369TJ burnt Thursday in Queensland gas-fired stations.

We can also see spot prices fall away with the abandonment of the carbon tax:

NEM-Review chart showing trended faily gas consumption by Queensland power stations

Using ez2view to look back at bidding behaviour for the six units of Braemar A and Braemar B (two particular stations impacted by the STTM price) we see significant volumes offered below $0, and another large chunk of volume offered between $10/MWh and $30/MWh – which more than half of that amount bid below $20/MWh

ez2view showing Bidding bevahiour for Braemar A and Braemar B stations over the past week

With this type of behaviour, it’s easy to see (one reason) why electricity spot prices are so low in Queensland.

Originally published by Watt Clarity. Reproduced with permission. 

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