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Emergency management

Following the National Cabinet’s acceptance of the recommendations of the Review of COAG Councils and Ministerial Forums (the Conran Review) in October 2020, the Energy Ministers Meeting agreed to create 6 working groups. The new groups are linked to agreed priorities for the Energy Ministers Meeting and Energy National Cabinet Reform Committee.

Energy Ministers agreed to maintain an ongoing focus on emergency management, including COVID-19.

The new National Energy Emergency Management Working Group (NEEMWG) is tasked with providing advice to senior officials and Energy Ministers on liquid fuels, gas and electricity supply emergencies. Similar to the other 5 working groups, NEEMWG will report to EMM through the Energy Senior Officials Meeting (ESOM).

The NEEMWG’s purpose is to provide coherent, consistent strategic direction across the operational energy emergency committees (with the 3 committees to remain empowered with operational responsibilities during an incident). The NEEMWG will help to prioritise work plans, budgets and focus for the committees as well as assist in communicating work programs to senior officials and ministers.

 The NEEMWG is expected to have a stronger strategic focus on emergency management given the increasing complexity and interdependence of energy systems across liquid fuels, gas and electricity. Ultimately, the NEEMWG will uphold directives from ESOM and Energy Ministers, including responses to emerging priorities relating to the 3 energy sectors.

There are 3 existing operational energy emergency management committees which fit under the scope of the NEEMWG:

  • National Oil Supplies Emergency Committee (NOSEC)
  • National Gas Emergency Response Advisory Committee (NGERAC)
  • National Electricity Market Emergency Management Forum (NEMEMF).

These provide advice to senior officials and Energy Ministers on liquid fuel, gas and electricity supply emergencies.

National Oil Supplies Emergency Committee (NOSEC)

The NOSEC was established in 2002 in response to requirements under the Liquid Fuel Emergency Act 1984 (LFE Act). The NOSEC role was further reinforced with the establishment of an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) in 2006.

The NOSEC provides advice and information to the Australian Government and state and territory governments on issues confronting national supply of crude oil and petroleum products.

The National Liquid Fuel Emergency Response Plan (NLFERP) is an agreed plan the NOSEC uses in providing advice in response to liquid fuel supply emergencies. The NOSEC is chaired by the Australian Government Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources (DISER). It comprises representatives of the Australian Government (DISER, Defence), all state and territory governments, and the liquid fuel industry.

National Gas Emergency Response Advisory Committee (NGERAC)

The NGERAC was established in 2005 to provide advice to the Australian Government and state and territory governments on efficient and effective responses to major natural gas supply disruptions.

The NGERAC role was reinforced in an updated Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in 2016. NGERAC also operates as a means of sharing information between the Australian Government and state and territory governments, as well as the natural gas industry, in relation to natural gas supply disruptions.

The Interruption to Gas Supply Process (ITGSP) is an agreed plan the NGERAC uses in providing advice in response to gas supply emergencies. The NGERAC is chaired by the Australian Government (DISER). It comprises representatives of the Australian Government, all state and territory governments, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), and the natural gas industry.

National Electricity Market Emergency Management Forum (NEMEMF)

The NEMEMF was established in 2010 to support ongoing improvement to emergency management arrangements in the National Electricity Market (NEM). The NEMEMF role improved implementation of the 1998 National Electricity Market – Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the use of emergency powers. The MoU was updated in 2015.

The NEMEMF is charged with reviewing, testing and improving the emergency plans and procedures which apply during power system emergencies. The Power System Emergency Management Plan (PSEMP) is an agreed plan the NEMEMF uses in providing advice in response to electricity supply emergencies in the NEM.

The NEMEMF is chaired by AEMO and comprises representatives of the NEM jurisdictions, industry (transmission network service providers), and the Australian Government (DISER).

The department has formally consulted interested parties, notably AEMO, all jurisdictions and industry, on the establishment of the NEEMWG through the release of a consultation paper. The paper outlined implementation options to improve the operation of energy emergency management arrangements (under the agreed single NEEMWG). In addition, the department has engaged on one-on-one discussions with such parties, with further discussions expected to take place in October-November 2021.

A draft terms of reference has been circulated, with the department now preparing an up-to-date version incorporating views and comments expressed during one-on-one discussions. The NEEMWG is expected to be established by the end of 2021, with its first meeting expected to take place in February-March 2022.