The Ports Management Act and Ports Management Regulations establish the Commission as the regulator for the access and pricing regime for the Port of Darwin.

The Commission’s role is to regulate prices for the Port of Darwin. The regulatory framework specifically states that the Commission must use price monitoring as the form of price regulation. Further, price regulation only applies to prescribed services. Under the legislation, the Commission has made a Price Determination which is consistent with the regulatory framework about the charges fixed by a private port operator for prescribed services.

Changes to Tariffs for Standard Charges for Prescribed Services for the Port of Darwin (1 August 2017)  

Since it became a private port operator, Darwin Port Operations Pty Ltd has increased the standard charges for prescribed services once. The new charges came into effect on 1 August 2017. All charges for prescribed services (except one) increased by 1.1 per cent. The exception, the charge for bulk liquid fuels (inbound) increased by 3.6 per cent. The port operator has explained the reason for the higher increase for this service was to receive an acceptable rate of return for the bulk liquids fuel berth infrastructure upgrades.

A new standard charge for a prescribed service was introduced in August 2017 – the Bladin Channel port dues levy, which will apply to vessels larger than 20 000 gross tonnage (GT) accessing the Bladin Channel. The port operator has informed the Commission that the reason for the new charge is to provide a recovery mechanism for investment in pilotage, harbour control and management facilities to support the safe management of large vessel traffic. Large vessel traffic is expected to increase once INPEX starts operation in 2018.

2017 Port of Darwin Comparative Report and 2017 Port of Darwin Price Benchmarking Report Released

The Ports Management Act requires the Utilities Commission to complete a review of the Northern Territory ports access and pricing regime by 15 November 2018. To inform this review the Commission completed a comparative report of annual reporting information about the operational activities of the Port of Darwin for the previous four years. 

The Commission also engaged the specialist services of GHD Advisory to undertake a benchmarking study of port prices for the Port of Darwin against comparable interstate ports. The ports included in the study were Darwin, Broome, Port Hedland, Fremantle, Adelaide, Cairns, Townsville and Gladstone. 

​Both of these reports are included as appendices to the Issues Paper for the 2018 Ports Access and Pricing Review​.  ​

2017 Port of Darwin Comparative Report

2017 Port of Darwin Price Benchmarking Report

Notice of Making of a Determination (closed)

Prescribed Port Services – Port of Darwin – Final Price Determination

On 16 February 2016, the Utilities Commission issued a final price determination in accordance with section 132 of the Ports Management Act and section 20(1)(a) of the Utilities Commission Act.

The Commission is required by section 17(3) of the Ports Management Regulations to make a determination no later than three months after the appointment of the private port operator. It relates to the charges fixed by the private port operator (Darwin Port Operations Pty Limited) for the provision of prescribed services at the Port of Darwin and the manner in which the Commission will monitor those prices.

The Final Determination is available on the Utilities Commission website or by contacting the Commission on utilities.commission@nt.gov.au or +61 8 8999 5480.

Draft Price Determination (closed)

On 17 December 2015, the Commission released a draft determination which the Commission is authorised to make under section 132 of the Ports Management Act and section 20(1)(a) of the Utilities Commission Act. It relates to the charges fixed by Darwin Port Operations Pty Ltd (the private port operator) for the provision of prescribed service at the Port of Darwin.

The Commission is required by section 17(3) of the Ports Management Regulations to make a determination no later than three months after the appointment of the private port operator.

The Commission must provide a copy of a draft determination at least 30 days prior to the making of a final determination to the Minister, the private port operator and other stakeholders the Commission consider would likely be affected by the determination.

The Commission notes that this is the first determination for the Port of Darwin under the Ports Management Act.

Section 23 of the Utilities Commission Act makes provision for the Commission to enforce a determination. Section 121 of the Ports Management Act also requires the Commission to report annually to the Minister on any instances of non-compliance by a private port operator with a determination, with such a report to be tabled in the Legislative Assembly.

The draft determination is available here ​or by contacting the Commission office.

Dr Patrick Walsh
Utilities Commissioner
December 2015

Submissions Received

The Commission recieved two submissions on the Draft Price Determination. One submision was identitfied by the submitting stakeholder as commercial-in-confidence.

Submission – Department of Treasury and Finance