Following reforms to the new gas pipeline regulatory framework, which commenced in March 2023, the AER is now the dispute resolution body for access disputes relating to scheme pipelines, and administers the dispute resolution framework for non-scheme pipelines, under Chapter 5 of the National Gas Law (NGL).
This page sets out information on the three different pathways by which pipeline access disputes between users or prospective users and service providers can be resolved. It also includes information about the AER’s Pipeline Access Dispute Guide.
Pathway 1 – AER resolution of scheme pipeline disputes
The AER is the dispute resolution body for access disputes relating to scheme pipelines under Chapter 5 of the NGL. The AER will hear the dispute between the parties and make an access determination to resolve the dispute.
Pathway 2 – Non-scheme pipeline arbitration
The AER administers the dispute resolution framework for non-scheme pipelines under Chapter 5 of the NGL. Part 12 (Access disputes) of the NGR provides for an arbitration process to resolve access disputes in relation to non-scheme pipelines. The AER administers the non-scheme pipeline arbitration framework, including by referring access disputes to arbitration and liaising with parties on the appointment of a pool arbitrator. If the AER refers an access dispute to arbitration parties may select an arbitrator from the pool of arbitrators established by the AER. If parties fail to select an arbitrator in accordance with the rules, the AER is then required to decide who the arbitrator will be.
Pool of arbitrators
The AER has established a pool of arbitrators under rule 113U of the NGR. Arbitrators may be appointed from this pool to determine non-scheme access disputes referred to arbitration.
Pathway 3 – Mediation of disputes involving small shippers
Small shippers may elect to have an access dispute relating to a scheme or non-scheme pipeline mediated. Similarly to arbitration, the AER administers the mediation framework. Parties to a mediation can agree to appoint a mediator from a pool of mediators established by the AER, and if they are not able to reach agreement the AER will appoint a pool mediator. The process for a mediation is set out in Division 5 of Part 12 of the NGR.
Pool of mediators
The AER has established a pool of mediators under rule 113L of the NGR. Mediators may be appointed from this pool to help resolve access disputes referred to mediation.
Access Dispute Guide
On 29 November 2023, the AER published the final Pipeline Access Dispute Guide. This Guide is part of the AER’s work arising under the new gas pipeline regulatory framework. It is intended to provide guidance to arbitrators, mediators and those may become a party to an access dispute and information about the access dispute under the National Gas Rules (NGR) and the NGL.
The Guide provides information about:
- the pathways to resolve an access dispute under the NGR and NGL
- the procedures for starting an access dispute and the hearing of access disputes
- matters that the AER, arbitrator or mediator must consider in deciding how to resolve the dispute, and the effect of their decisions
- procedural issues involved in the dispute resolution process.