Parliament: Proposal for stronger powers to avert gas supply shortages or disruptions

The suggested amendments to the Gas Act also involve broadening the Energy Market Authority's functions to include dealing with health dangers that arise from importing gas.
The suggested amendments to the Gas Act also involve broadening the Energy Market Authority's functions to include dealing with health dangers that arise from importing gas.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Energy Market Authority (EMA) may soon be able to ensure that companies in the energy sector take measures that safeguard the country's gas supply if the risk of shortages or disruptions looms.

The proposal is one of several mooted changes to the Gas Act that were introduced in Parliament for its first reading on Monday (Sept 10).

The 2001 Act established a competitive market framework for the industry and provided safeguards for transporting and selling gas.

In June, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said in a public consultation document that the EMA would issue its enhanced directives only "in emergencies, and affected parties will receive compensation, which will be determined by an independent pricing panel".

It would also need approval from the Trade and Industry Minister before acting.

The suggested amendments to the Gas Act also involve broadening the EMA's functions to include dealing with health dangers that arise from importing gas.

The list of "designated gas licensees" will be expanded as well to include the liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal operator, Singapore LNG Corporation, according to the MTI's public consultation document.

The proposal also allows the Trade and Industry Minister to revise the list of "designated gas licensees" to keep up with changes in the industry.

Proposed changes to the Electricity Act - also enacted in 2001 - were tabled on Monday as well.

Under one proposal, the EMA would be empowered to connect SP PowerAssets' electrical equipment to that of other electricity licensees to expand the transmission network, if deemed necessary. This action would be subject to terms it considers reasonable.

In the public consultation documents, the MTI proposed to expand the regulatory regime to make it an offence for firms to provide services relating to electrical work using unlicensed workers.

Other proposals include strengthening rules against the dishonest consumption of gas and electricity and meter tampering offences.