Polish wholesale natural gas market delayed by at least a month
The introduction of a Polish wholesale natural gas market has been postponed by a month because of a regulatory setback that was announced on Friday. But market participants fear the delay to virtual trading could last even longer.
Transmission system operator (TSO) GAZ-SYSTEM said on Friday that it had received approval from energy regulator URE to postpone, until 06:00 local time on 1 January, the introduction of its new network code, stating that the move had been prompted by system users and market analysis.
The setback means wholesale trading will not be able to take place on the new gas exchange from 1 December, as had been planned. This is because the new grid code included all the elements needed to operate a virtual hub on which the bourse's rules have been built.
The TSO did not disclose what specifically had prompted its request for a delay, but ICIS understands the lack of new approved codes from distribution system operators (DSOs) is the main reason. Poland has six DSOs, which have all had to update their own grid rules in order to function appropriately with the new virtual rules of the transmission network. Some, if not all, are yet to have these rules approved by URE, however. The watchdog confirmed it was processing the six codes of the regional DSOs, but gave no indication of when this process might be completed.
Market participants are concerned that the approval process could take longer than a month and that the TSO may be forced to ask URE to postpone the new network code's introduction again.
Some even said the DSO grid codes were not the only problem and predicted a protracted delay to the start of virtual trading. According to one source, until the new gas law is introduced, the DSOs will not be able to set grid tariffs accurately, which, in turn, could hold up the whole process.And given the ongoing delays in passing the gas law, it would be hard to know when the Polish virtual market could go live.
On Wednesday, the European Commission referred Poland to the EU's Court of Justice for failing to pass the gas law, which is needed to transpose the third energy package (see ESGM 21 November 2012). Poland potentially faces a daily fine of almost €90,000 for non-compliance. Over-the-counter wholesale trading in Poland is not expected until later next year, because it will be possible only when the largest industrial end-users have their tariffs deregulated. TMM
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