Gas market reform bill in Parliament next month

A draft bill for gas market reforms, based on an EU model separating supply and management of the distribution network, which would end current gas supply monopolies in Greece, has been finalized and will be submitted to parliament in September, as scheduled, according to information obtained by EnergyPress.

The opening up of the gas supply market, which would bring an end to monopolies maintained by three regional gas supply companies operating in Greece, stands as one of the fundamental reform measures being demanded by the country’s creditor representatives, or troika. The gas market’s reform promises to usher in competitor firms.

The problem in the Greek market stems from exclusive market rights offered to gas supply companies, aided by special trading licenses issued by the European Commission. These licenses, which have yet to expire, have offered the firms exemptions from standard market regulations.

Any prospect of monetary compensation for the current gas supply firms has been ruled out. Instead, it is believed that authorities will seek to find solutions through time extensions and geographical expansions to current trading permits.

According to sources, the shareholders of all three ventures have agreed to the reform plan.

Three gas supply companies currently operate in the Greek market, respectively covering the wider Athenian region, the Thessalia region in the mid-northeast, as well as northern city Thessaloniki. DEPA, the Public Gas Company, holds a majority 51% stake in all three operations. Shell holds a 49% stake in the Athens gas supply firm, while Italian multinational oil and gas company Eni holds 49% stakes in the gas supply companies serving the Thessalia region and Thessaloniki.

However, sector authorities will need to move fast if the gas market reforms are to be completed by the current year’s final quarter, as agreed to in the country’s bail-out plan with creditors.

In practical terms, the new natural gas supply firms to enter the market will not be made available to consumers, as supplier alternatives, any sooner than the beginning of 2017. It is estimated that industrial consumers will be offered gas alternatives sooner.