Half Italian natural gas storage to be sold by auction from this year
Half of Italy's natural gas storage capacity will be offered at auction from the next allocation round, Italy's Ministry for Economic Development has announced. However, the move stops short of earlier proposals, to switch to a wholly auction-based system (see ESGM 4 February 2013).
As a result of a decree signed on 15 February by energy minister, Corrado Passera, over 4.2 billion cubic metres (bcm) of storage capacity will be open to all operators through auctions.
The decree calls for auctions to be held in time for the storage year running from 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2014.
Italian gas storage operator, Stogit, was not available on Tuesday to comment on how the auction would be run or its timing.
Previously, storage was allocated on a pro-rata basis, with priority given to shippers with commitments to final consumers.
The remaining capacity, also of around 4.2 bcm, will continue to be assigned pro-rata to operators who sell to final consumers.
A second decree was also signed on the same date, which provides for 500 million cubic metres of storage - obtained by reducing the volumes dedicated for strategic storage - to be allocated to LNG and regasification industries "to ensure continuity of supply".
The ministry said the changes to the gas storage market were part of a wider programme of market liberalisation and a future role for Italy as a southern European gas hub. Emma Slawinski
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