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Austria delays parts of natural gas market transformation

03 May 2012 17:36:52 | esgm

Austria will delay parts of it natural gas market transformation until April 2013, according to an updated version of the new market rules.

"We decided to extend the deadline for the implementation of an online capacity auctioning platform, because the market zone manager simply needs more time to set the infrastructure in place," said Michael Schmöltzer, head of the Austrian regulator E-control's gas department.

The delayed schedule for online capacity auctions affects the planned use-it-or-lose-it regime for Day-ahead capacities, but also bundled capacity products which are due to be offered on cross-border points across the country next year.

Another change to the proposed market rules has been made to the exemption of end-users with a daily consumption of up to 50,000KWh from hourly balancing. The updated version of the rules allows these users the option to remain within the daily balancing regime or switch to hourly balancing.

Market zone manager chosen

Additionally, E-control announced on Thursday that Gas Connect Austria (GCA) has been selected as market zone manager.

In this newly created position, OMV subsidiary GCA will become responsible for several aspects of the balancing system, grid development and the new capacity auctioning platform.

But E-control limited the term of office for Gas Connect Austria until 30 June 2014.

"There have been doubts among market participants whether Gas Connect Austria would be the right solution as market zone manager," Schmöltzer said.

In January, Schmöltzer told ICIS that a joint venture company like Germany's NCG might be better suited for the position (see ESGM 19 January). But at the current point of the market restructuring process, E-control was forced to select an already existing company for the position. Along with the recent decision to turn GCA into market zone manager, E-control also included the option to create a joint venture as market zone manager.

"I believe this is a good compromise, which leaves a lot of possibilities for the future," Schmöltzer said. "A lot will depend on how proactive GCA will work on the market transformation." MH

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