German L-gas 1 zone to start 1 April bringing total down to 3
The joint L-Gas 1 market area in northern Germany is to start as planned on 1 April, the transmission system operators (TSOs) Erdgas Münster Transport (EGMT), EWE NETZ and Gasunie Deutschland Transport Services confirmed this month.
The new zone comprises the areas EGMT, Verbundnetz Ems/Weser/Elbe and L-Gas Norddeutschland. It stretches from the North Sea coast to the Harz Mountains and from the Dutch border to Wolfsburg. More than 70 adjacent supply networks – most of them operated by local utilities – belong to the area. It includes some 70% of the total L-gas quantities in Germany. The market share of L-gas in the country amounts to 30%.
To manage the joint zone, the TSOs have established a company called Aequamus, based in Bremen, which has the task of acting as balancing group operator. Aequamus’s tasks include operational data management, concluding and processing balancing group contracts, marketing the area’s virtual point, and procuring balancing and compensation energy.
As before, the single TSOs remain responsible for concluding transportation contracts for entry and exit points, processing nominations at these points, and controlling and operating the networks. The companies remain independent of one another and will continue competing to market their networks’ entry and exit capacities.
To make it easier for shippers to book capacity, the TSOs have been offering their capacities on the http://www.marktgebiete.com online platform, since April 2008. Throughout the new L-Gas 1 area, entry and exit capacities can be allocated freely and are included in area-wide balancing groups without restrictions.
In a joint statement, EGMT, EWE NETZ and Gasunie Deutschland Transport Services emphasised that one of the aims of combining the market areas is to increase liquidity at the virtual trading point and thereby stimulate competition. The area cooperation is open for other companies, the TSOs added.
As a result of the tie-up, Germany will only have three L-gas market zones after 1 April. RWE Transportnetz Gas and E.ON Gastransport operate the other two. The companies had planned to merge their areas by 1 October 2008, as had EGMT, EWE Netz and Gasunie Deutschland Transsport Services. But the tie-ups were postponed, with all TSOs citing regulatory and technical reasons.
Because of the companies’ failure to organise the mergers, the federal regulator Bundesnetzagentur opened proceedings. A spokeswoman for the regulator said this month it expected the operators of L-Gas 1 to start talks with RWE and EGT in order to join all remaining L-gas areas into a single one. If this goal was achieved, there would be a good chance for the proceedings to be stopped, she said.
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