UK prices pushed up by gas strikes in Australia

Article posted

21st Aug 2023

Read time

3-6 min read


Mollie Pinnington

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This week, potential strike action among gas producers in Australia has exerted upward pressure on energy prices in the UK. The repercussions of industrial disputes in the global energy market once again highlight the interconnected nature of global commodity markets and the vulnerabilities that arise from such dependencies. Any disruption in supply chains, as we are witnessing in Australia, invariably leads to price spikes in regions that rely on these imports, such as the UK in this instance.

The Offshore Alliance, a union representing workers across Australia's offshore oil and gas sector, has revealed that there's a looming threat of a strike in one of the country's key Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) facilities situated in the North. If no agreement is reached between the union and the government in the near future, industrial action could commence as early as next month. This predicted disruption adds a layer of uncertainty to an already tense global energy landscape.

If the strike action indeed results in a disruption of shipping between Australia and other countries, we can anticipate a consequential and substantial rise in global prices across the market. This is due to the integral role Australia plays in the international energy market, providing a significant amount of LNG to numerous countries worldwide. A halt on exports from this nation would create a void in supply, prompting demand to outstrip supply. As a result, countries that depend heavily on Australia's LNG, like the UK, would be coerced into sourcing from higher-priced alternatives. This chain reaction would not just rattle the UK market but would send shockwaves through the global energy market, instigating a drastic surge in prices.

In light of these developments, benchmark prices have surged by approximately 10% across both the UK and EU, further aggravating the burden on corporations and consumers alike. As a key global supplier of LNG, Australia's potential disruption in its export capabilities is an alarming prospect for these regions, where affordable energy resources are already a matter of concern. This scenario underscores the critical role Australia plays in influencing global energy prices and maintaining the equilibrium between demand and supply in the international energy market.

Why we rely so much on LNG

The situation was further exacerbated when Russia invaded Ukraine, causing an abrupt hike in energy prices. Russia, being one of the world's largest producers of oil and gas, significantly influenced the global energy market with this move. Countries that relied heavily on Russia's natural gas were forced to seek alternative suppliers, leading to a dramatic surge in prices. However, the immediate crisis has somewhat subsided, and prices have since fallen slightly.

In the midst of this chaos, natural gas, particularly LNG, became a fallback for many countries. Australia, as a leading exporter of LNG, suddenly found its resources in even higher demand. Yet, at the same time, the looming potential for strike action within Australia's own energy sector threatens to destabilize this delicate balance. With global energy markets already on a knife edge, any further disruptions could lead to another round of price hikes and market instability.

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