Mediation Now An Option In Pipeline Access Disputes

Mediation Now An Option In Pipeline Access Disputes

Emily Wood | January 23, 2024

Mediation over arbitration in any situation is typically less costly and quicker when resolving a dispute.

It’s now an option for small gas shippers to use in pipeline access disputes following reforms earlier this year to the gas pipeline regulatory framework.

The AER welcomed these reforms to make it easier for small shippers to resolve disputes by mediation, whether it’s in relation to accessing a fully regulated scheme pipeline or a lighter regulated non-scheme pipeline.

We know that disputes can arise in areas such as the terms of a new contract or pipeline access points.

It’s important that all parties, including smaller transporters of gas, have cost-effective avenues they can go down to reach fair and reasonable agreements.

Following consultation with the EUAA and relevant energy users, the AER’s final Pipeline Access Dispute Guide is now available with information on the current dispute resolution framework and processes under the National Gas Rules and Law.

The Guide explains the various pathways and procedures that can be used to resolve disputes, including when a matter can be referred to mediation and how the mediation can operate. It also covers arbitration processes which are available to all shippers.

As with arbitration, the AER administers the mediation framework. We’ve appointed a pool of mediators which the disputing parties can select from to steer them through. If they can’t agree on a mediator, the AER will appoint one from the pool.

The development of the Pipeline Access Dispute Guide is part of a wider suite of gas reforms the AER has been working on throughout the year.

These include new pipeline information disclosure guidelines, new powers in contract market monitoring and how we might bolster our market performance reporting role to strengthen transparency and informed decision-making.

I look forward to keeping EUAA members informed of the work we are doing throughout 2024 to support the role of gas in Australia’s energy future.

With thanks to Lynne Gallagher, an AER Board Member and Chair of the AER Networks Committee, for providing this information.  

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