Introducing the Bahamas Natural Gas Act, 2024, Represents Government’s Commitment to Find a Cleaner Fuel Source

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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 is a fulfillment of the government’s commitment to transition the country’s power generation to liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a cleaner fuel source.

“Currently, LNG is imported, used and transported in the Bahamas, but there is no regulatory framework for this activity,” the Minister said during her Contribution to the Electricity Act, 2024 and the Natural Gas Act, 2024 in the House of Representatives. General Meeting on Wednesday, May 1, 2024.

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

She explained that the current scope and expected activity related to LNG fuel requires a regulatory framework for each stage of the LNG value chain.

The Minister noted that the Utilities Regulation & Competition Authority (URCA) is proposed to become 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 import, regasification, shipment, transportation and retail sale of natural gas to ensure that these activities are carried out 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 reduce costs for consumers, and

· Advancing global efforts to reduce emissions that contribute to global climate change, thus preserving the environment for future generations.

The Energy Minister said that under the Natural Gas Law, a license will be required in 2024 to import natural gas, build and operate LNG terminals and natural gas pipelines, ship natural gas, sell natural gas and carry out any other activity in the natural gas sector. which URCA believes requires a license.

“The bill clearly outlines the rights and obligations of gas service permit holders and employees. This includes specific requirements for the tasks of a gas transporter, a gas retailer and health and safety requirements.”

She said: “The Natural Gas Bill, 2024 contains a provision for consumer protection as each public gas supplier will submit a plan to URCA for approval that would 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, concerns have been raised in the media about a possible increase in electricity tariff and the role of URCA.

She said while fuel costs are variable, BPL’s base rate has not changed since 2010. Currently the rate is not fair. Those who can pay the least pay more than large companies.

“A comprehensive rate review is underway to determine effective rates and classifications. This review seeks a just and sustainable solution.”

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

“This expansion is important as it supports The Bahamas’ move towards more sustainable energy sources, placing URCA in a central role in overseeing the sector.

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

In combination with the Electricity Act, the Natural Gas Act also expands the regulatory scope of URCA to include the natural gas sector.”

She explained that this is especially relevant as liquefied natural gas (LNG) is likely to become an important fuel source for electricity generation. URCA’s oversight in this area could lead to more efficient and potentially cheaper electricity production, benefiting the entire energy sector.

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