President of Federal Network Agency Demands more Efforts to Open Gas Markets

In a guest contribution to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Matthias Kurth, President of the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur), demands more efforts in opening the European gas markets. The market opening in Germany that started in 1998 is irreversible and is slowly taking effect, he says.  Customers can save up to 10% on gas prices in many areas in Germany, which is more than experts expected. The fact that Germany is still divided into market areas is a continuing problem. It has, however, been alleviated by reducing the number of market areas to six.

Mr Kurth criticizes that competition on the European gas wholesale market was not yet functioning properly.

He also points out that business days in the European gas industries are measured differently. While the day last from 00:00 to 24:00 in Austria, gas business days in other countries may last from 06:00 to 06:00 or 23:00 to 23:00. A gas trader who wants to buy gas “for tomorrow” has to pay attention to the individual national concepts.

Borders also continue to impair competition, since gas exporters and importers needed two contracts, one for the export and one for the import, he says. Otherwise gas had to be sold at the border. However, at the borders a small number of companies had booked all access rights in the past. Mr Kurth calls contracts with access rights on both sides of the respective borders the only solution. The Federal Network Agency therefore wants to introduce administrative procedures that allow for a cross-border bundling of contracts.

Source: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 13 January 2010, page 10

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