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Germany’s TSOs clash with regulator over natural gas grid expansion

28 Jun 2012 15:16:19 | esgm

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Germany's natural gas transmission system operators (TSOs) will have to make unexpected changes to the current draft of the country's gas grid development plan (NEP), Achim Zerres, head of energy regulation at the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) said on Wednesday.

In a discussion between TSOs and BNetzA during a regulator workshop held in Bonn, the two parties discovered new disagreements regarding the envisaged completion dates of some of the planned expansion projects. As it turned out, a number of projects listed in the current draft were expected by the regulator to be finished by 2015, while the TSOs are aiming for completion in 2017.

At the beginning of Wednesday's event, Zerres said he was confident that no further changes to the current version of the NEP were necessary, but later he announced that the TSOs will have to recalculate their completion times, marking more clearly which capacity will be available at what date.

He called on market participants to comment on the best way for the TSOs to publish this data by 13 July. This is also the deadline for further comments for storage-related aspects of the NEP.

On a related note, the regulator said that it aims to finalise the current plan as soon as possible, which means that new events - such as the extreme price peak in February - will not be considered.

According to BNetzA, the combination of reduced supply and high demand in February has shown that there is a North-South bottleneck within the German gas grid, which has to be tackled in the next grid development plan in 2013.

The regulator announced that it aims to have the final version of the NEP 2012 ready by the end of the year. At the same time, preparation for NEP 2013 has already started. The new plan will also give an update on the status of the projects listed in NEP 2012.

In the first draft NEP published in February, the TSOs estimated that the country's gas network infrastructure will need investment of at least €2.2bn ($2.8bn) by 2022 (see ESGM 21 February 2012). JR

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