Iberia readies itself for new OSBB and gas interconnector rules

24 February 2017 12:50 Source:ICIS

The launch of natural gas network services to ease cross-border congestion between Spain and neighbours France and Portugal appears to be back on track, after initial fears of a year-long delay because of IT issues.

According to a source with knowledge of the matter, new oversubscription and buy back (OSBB) services should launch in Spain on schedule on 1 April, although market participants are not expected to find out for sure until mid-March.

OSBB is one tool outlined by the EU congestion management procedures (CMP) already implemented by most members states.

Spain, along with Bulgaria, Italy, Hungary, Portugal and Romania, were not fully compliant with CMP rules that had come into force in 2013, the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) said in September 2016.

Specifically they had not implemented OSBB, which is used to overcome cross-border contractual congestion within the internal European gas market. The tool allows unused capacity to be brought back to the market and reassigned.

In January there were fears the April deadline for implementing OSBB in Spain and Portugal would be delayed by up to a year at the request of Spanish transmission system operator Enagas.

At last month’s gas regional initiative meeting, Enagas proposed postponing implementation of the approved OSBB scheme to April 2018, due to IT issues it was having, according to a recent ACER status report.

But implementation of the OSBB rules in just over a month was now “the most probable scenario,” the source said.

New interconnection agreement

A new interconnection agreement setting rules on using cross-border capacity between Spain and Portugal at the Iberico virtual interconnection point is also on track, and should be signed by the end of February, the source said.

The new agreement updates rules dating back to 2009, to ensure compliance with the EU network code on interoperability and data exchange. The changes mainly concern the way grid operators, Enagas and Portuguese peer REN, are able to communicate with each other.

Signing the agreement by the end of February was also earmarked by the recent ACER status report on regional initiatives.

Enagas did not wish to comment on the timelines while REN did not respond for a request for comment. robert.songer@icis.com

By Rob Songer