A University of Sydney researcher has been awarded a sub-contract by RMIT to lead a project into how gas pipeline safety can be impacted by economic regulation.
Dr Lynne Chester, a leading expert in the economic regulation of energy sectors, will lead the 18-month project at the Energy Pipelines Cooperative Research Centre (CRC).
The new project will explore how economic regulation may influence long-term safety outcomes in the Australian gas pipeline sector.
Dr Chester said, “We will interview senior decision-makers in gas pipeline companies to understand decisions about expenditure to meet safety requirements.”
“We want to understand how safety decisions at gas pipeline companies may or may not be influenced by those made to meet economic regulation.
“The project’s findings will inform policymakers and regulators about how energy businesses seek to comply simultaneously with two separate regulatory regimes and the tensions that occur in trying to comply with both regimes,” said Dr Chester.
The project will assess the impact of economic and safety regulation on a comparative industry sector – the United Kingdom’s rail network – to determine if the impact of regulation is the same in other overseas networks, or unique to Australian gas.
The Energy Pipelines CRC was established in 2010 and is strongly supported by the Australian Pipelines and Gas Association and the Australian Government.
According to the Australian Energy Regulator, the total length of gas distribution networks in eastern Australia is around 74,000kms, with a combined asset value of $8 billion.