GRTgaz plans winter natural gas balancing to guard against peak cold
French transmission system operator (TSO) GRTgaz has proposed exceptional balancing rules for the current winter to safeguard against grid failure in the case of extremely cold weather. Regulator CRE launched a consultation on the plans on Thursday evening.
GRTgaz is proposing that between 1 December 2013 and 30 April 2014, in exceptional circumstances, a shipper whose daily gas balance is in deficit would be unable to postpone its imbalance to the next day. There would be a high daily balancing price for this imbalance. Conversely, there would be greater tolerance for a positive imbalance.
The TSO has repeatedly warned that France will not have enough gas to handle demand during cold conditions such as those that occur once every 50 years. Low storage is seen as a major factor in the potential shortfall ( see ESGM 9 July 2013 ).
The rules would be triggered if GRTgaz had to ensure physical balancing of the network using its safety storage beyond a preset limit. For transparency, the TSO would notify all its shippers and CRE daily of its level of safety storage.
When exceptional rules kick in, shippers would have three days’ notice before their implementation.
CRE noted that GRTgaz’s plan would change the balancing rules already defined in consultation with market participants. However, the regulator added that in view of “uncertainty about the ability of the French gas system to cope with an extreme cold peak this winter”, at this stage it supports the proposal.
Stakeholders have until 5 November to respond to the consultation. Emma Slawinski
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