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Conditions for access to the gas transmission networks

Provisions relating to the conditions for access to the natural gas transmission networks add to the provisions of Directive 2003/55/EC and contribute to completion of the internal gas market. Effective and non-discriminatory access by third parties to the gas transmission networks is an essential condition for existence of a truly competitive internal gas market within the European Union (EU).

ACT

Regulation (EC) No 1775/2005 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 September 2005 on conditions for access to the natural gas transmission networks.

SUMMARY

Provisions relating to the conditions for access to the natural gas transmission networks add to the provisions of Directive 2003/55/EC and contribute to completion of the internal gas market.

Complete opening-up of national gas markets, as provided for by Directive 2003/55/EC, has brought about a truly competitive internal gas market within the European Union (EU). In practice, industrial clients and domestic customers have had the freedom to choose their gas supplier since 1 July 2004 and 1 July 2007 respectively.

Effective and non-discriminatory access by third parties to the gas transmission networks is an essential condition for the existence of a genuine internal gas market. With the aim of ensuring a minimum level of harmonisation, Regulation (EC) No 1775/2005 therefore lays down the basic principles.

  • Service conditions for third-party network access

Gas transmission system operators are obliged to offer their services to all users on a non-discriminatory basis. They must therefore offer the same service to different users under identical contractual conditions (nature, duration, etc.). The operator can choose to draw up harmonised transmission contracts or a joint system code.

This does not mean, however, that other transmission system operators are obliged to offer the same contractual conditions, apart from the minimum contractual requirements.

  • Capacity allocation mechanisms and balancing rules

The system operator makes the technical network capacity available to users in its entirety, taking into account system integrity and efficient use of the network. Capacity allocation is performed on the basis of non-discriminatory and transparent mechanisms.

Different rules, both technical and commercial, allow balancing of the network and guarantee its smooth operation.

Therefore, in the event of contractual congestion, i.e. when the level of demand for firm capacity (transmission capacity which the operator has guaranteed by way of a non-interruptible contract) exceeds the system's technical capacity, the operator may offer the unused capacity of certain users to other users on a short-term basis.

As for users, they have the freedom to freely trade their capacity rights, by selling or subletting their unused capacity. This trade is an essential factor in the development of a competitive internal market and creation of market liquidity.

The transmission system operator also sets fair and transparent technical balancing rules. In order to guarantee continuity of the gas supply, it must in fact ensure that the system pressure is constantly maintained at a certain level, which depends on the balance between the entry and exit of gas in the network. It provides users with relevant information on the balancing status and they then take the necessary corrective measures.

  • Criteria and methodologies for setting network access tariffs

Tariffs set by system operators are transparent and non-discriminatory. They reflect the actual costs borne by them.

The prices take into account not only maintenance of system integrity (guarantee of gas transmission from a technical point of view, in particular in relation to gas pressure and quality) but also its improvement (investment incentives and construction of new infrastructures).

  • Definition of the technical information needed by users and transparency requirements

To encourage effective access to the network, users must have relevant information, particularly on the services offered by the operator, and more specifically the methodology of tariffs, as well as on the technical capacity and available capacity. Users can also use the different commercial possibilities offered by the internal market. System operators publish this information with regard for the confidentiality of commercial information.

Background

The gas regulatory forum, or " Madrid Forum ", a discussion group for concrete implementation of European regulations in the natural gas market, has enabled definition of guidelines relating to market access conditions. The experience gained from implementation has shown that it is useful to turn these guidelines into legally binding rules.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into force - Date of expiryDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Regulation (EC) No 1775/200523.11.2005-OJ L 289, 3.11.2005

RELATED ACTS

Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 September 2007 amending Regulation (EC) No 1775/2005 concerning conditions for access to the natural gas transmission networks [COM(2007) 532 final - Not published in the Official Journal].

A third and final legislative package is proposed to complete the opening-up of the European energy markets to competition and creation of the internal energy market.

The internal energy market demonstrates malfunctioning that cannot be corrected effectively by current rules, as stated by the Commission in its sector inquiry. The proposals of the third legislative package go in the same direction as the communication on the prospects for the internal gas and electricity market. The main proposals for amendment of Regulation (EC) No 1775/2005 relate to:

  • formalisation of the European groups of transmission system operators for better coordination and, in particular, the drawing-up of joint market and technical codes;
  • improved market operation, in particular greater transparency, effective access to storage facilities and liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals.

The Commission proposes five drafts to amend Directives 2003/54/EC and 2003/55/EC relating to the electricity market and the gas market respectively, as well as Regulations (EC) No 1228/2003 and No 1775/2005 on access to the electricity networks and access to the gas networks respectively, and to set up an energy regulators cooperation agency.

Codecision procedure (COD/2007/0196)

Commission Decision 2003/796/EC of 11 November 2003 on establishing the European Regulators Group for Electricity and Gas [Official Journal L 296, 14.11.2003].

Directive 2003/55/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2003 concerning common rules for the internal market in natural gas and repealing Directive 98/30/EC [Official Journal L 176, 15.7.2003].

 
Last updated: 19.02.2008
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