* Eastern Australia has suffered from power and gas shortages
* Qado to act as asset manager, RCMA as marketer of natural gas
* Qado chasing acreage for up to A$500 mln (Adds Qado executive’s comments)
By Henning Gloystein
SINGAPORE, Aug 29 (Reuters) - Australian asset manager Qado and commodity merchant RCMA plan to jointly develop and market natural gas assets in the state of Queensland to sell the fuel into the country’s power and gas markets, where prices are soaring due to tight supply.
Australia is rich in natural gas, but much of it is being exported overseas, which has led to a shortfall in the domestic market.
At the same time, gas demand is growing as the country needs more gas-fired power to back up intermittent wind and solar power, to avert power outages like a state-wide blackout in South Australia last September.
Qado and RCMA hope to fill this supply gap and profit from high and volatile local power and gas prices, with Qado seeking to pick up gas acreage in Queensland either from companies looking to pare their portfolios or acreage being released by the state.
Qado Executive Director Bill Lazarus said the company is looking at opportunities up to a maximum of A$500 million ($396 million).
“We’re hopeful we’ll have some additional news in the next month or so,” Lazarus told Reuters.
RCMA plans to back projects operated by Qado with gas trading and marketing services and direct investment “to enable competitive gas supply to the Queensland domestic gas market,” the two companies said in a statement released late on Monday.
“Some of the assets are prospective gas acreage that the Queensland government has released,” said Andrew Koscharsky, Director for Energy at RCMA in Singapore.
RCMA and Qado did not provide details about the natural gas assets, citing commercial sensitivity during the negotiation process, but said the joint venture planned to “bring on stream a number of gas and liquids projects in the coming years.”
RCMA already trades natural gas and power in Australia’s wholesale market, and Koscharsky said the company was applying for a retail electricity licence through its subsidiary iSwitch.
“QADO and RCMA will work together with the aim of bringing more competitive gas to the Queensland domestic market through the iSwitch retail energy arm of RCMA,” he said. ($1 = 1.2625 Australian dollars)
Reporting by Henning Gloystein; Additional reporting by Sonali Paul in MELBOURNE; Editing by Sunil Nair