Introduction Of The Natural Gas Bill, 2024 In The Bahamas Represents The Government’s Commitment To Finding A Cleaner Source Of Fuel

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Nassau, Bahamas – Minister of Energy and Transport the Hon. JoBeth Coleby-Davis said the introduction of the Natural Gas Bill, 2024 represents a fulfillment of the government’s commitment to transition the nation’s power generation to liquified natural gas (LNG) as a cleaner source of fuel.

“Currently, LNG is being imported, used, and transported in The Bahamas, however there is no regulatory framework for this activity,” the Minister said during her Contribution to the Electricity Bill, 2024 and the Natural Gas Bill, 2024 in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, May 1, 2024.

“We know that LNG is currently deployed as a fuel source for electricity generation for some private developments.”

She explained that the current scope and anticipated activity involving LNG fuel demands a regulatory framework for every stage of the value chain for LNG.

The Minister noted that it is proposed that the Utilities Regulation & Competition Authority (URCA) be the designated regulator for natural gas in The Bahamas.

She said the objectives of the Bill are:

·       To establish a legislative framework to regulate the importation, regasification, shipping, transportation, and retailing of natural gas to ensure these activities are performed in a safe, efficient, effective economic, and environmental manner,

·       To promote access to gas in an affordable and safe manner,

·       To provide higher fuel efficiency to lower costs for consumers, and

·       To promote the global effort in reducing emissions that contribute to global climate change, thus serving to sustain the environment for future generations.

The Energy Minister said under the Natural Gas Bill, 2024 a license will be required to import natural gas, build, and operate LNG terminals and natural gas pipelines, ship natural gas, retail natural gas, and perform any other activity in the natural gas sector that URCA considers to require a license.

“The Bill clearly outlines the rights and duties of licensees and gas service workers. This includes specific requirements for duties of gas transporter, a gas retailer, and health and safety requirements.”

She said, “The Natural Gas Bill, 2024 includes a provision for consumer protection, as every public gas supplier shall submit to URCA for approval, a plan that should outline standards for the protection of its gas consumers.”

The Minister noted that since the tabling of the Energy Bill, 2024 and the Natural Gas Bill, 2024, there have been concerns expressed in the media about a possible rise in the electricity tariff and the role of URCA.

She said although the fuel charge is variable, BPL’s base tariff has not been changed since 2010. Currently, the tariff is not equitable. Those least able to pay are paying more than large businesses.

“There is a comprehensive tariff review that is underway to determine effective tariff rates and classifications. This review will be looking for an equitable and sustainable solution.”

The Minister explained that the enhancement of URCA’s authority now includes the approval of all major renewable energy projects, even those not connected to the national grid otherwise known as off-grid projects.

“This expansion is significant because it supports The Bahamas’ move towards more sustainable energy sources, giving URCA a pivotal role in overseeing the sector.

“By overseeing all renewable energy projects, URCA ensures that even off-grid initiatives meet safety and efficiency standards.

In conjunction with the Electricity Bill, the Natural Gas Bill also expands URCA’s regulatory scope to include the natural gas sector.”

She explained that this is particularly relevant as liquified natural gas (LNG) is likely to become a significant fuel source for electricity generation. URCA’s oversight in this area could lead to more efficient and potentially lower-cost electricity production, benefiting the entire energy sector.

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