Western Australia’s gas supply crisis has caused 14% of West Australian businesses to either close or face imminent closure, a new survey reveals.
The report, released by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Western Australia, also finds several local businesses have reduced operations and lay off workers.
Additionally, 25% of businesses surveyed say they are directly affected by the gas shortage, while 27% of respondents say they are indirectly affected.
“Preliminary results indicate the loss of gas supply is a significant threat to local industry, their employees and challenge for business, industry and the economy more generally,” CCI Chief Executive James Pearson says.
The state lost over 30% of its gas supply after an explosion crippled the Apache Energy plant on Varanus Island, forcing down expectations of national economic growth.
CCI spokesperson David Harrison says that while they do not know exactly how long the crisis will last, the consequences on the economy will be significant, and not felt fully for some time.
“Obviously it has a significant impact on the economy, but that won’t be determined until much later once the full situation has been resolved. What we do know is, based on our survey results and the modeling work we’ve done, the loss of gas and electricity in WA is costing business around hundreds of millions dollars a week.”
Harrison also says many businesses are suffering as a result of being asked to reduce their energy consumption.
“Any energy c conserved will free up supplies in the market and go to businesses and industries that need it… Some of the hardest hit we find are in the mining sector, manufacturing, timber supplies, road supply… agriculture is hit, so there’s a broad range of industry sectors.”
Harrison says the CCI hopes businesses are not forced to close permanently, even after the crisis has been resolved.
“We certainly hope they don’t, and that’s why we need to put into place resources that will help businesses… the challenge and threat is real, and is significant.”
Premier Alan Carpenter and the Property Council of Western Australia have urged businesses and the general public to voluntarily cut energy consumption, or the Federal Energy Minister will enact the liquid fuel emergency act, giving him control over the state’s gas supply.
The CCI also released a statement saying they are “concerned the longer the gas outage continues, the greater the adverse impact will be on business, households and the economy”.