On 16 July 2018, the Law amending and supplementing the Electricity and Gas Law no. 123/2012 (“Amendment Law”), which introduces significant changes as concerns the sale and purchase of natural gas on the centralised markets, was published in the Romanian Official Gazette.
Introduction of gas traders
The Amendment Law introduces the concept of natural gas trader, defined as a licensed natural or legal person who buys and sells natural gas exclusively on the wholesale natural gas market. The requirements and procedure for obtaining a license for natural gas trader have been recently enacted by Order No. 2/2019 of the Energy Regulatory Authority of Romania (ANRE).
Obligation to sell/buy gas on the centralised markets
In 2016, an obligation was introduced for gas producers and suppliers to conclude wholesale contracts on the Romanian centralised natural gas markets for a minimum quantity determined as a percentage (set out through Government Decision) of the total quantity of natural gas traded by them each year – the obligation was to be applied until 31 December 2021.
According to the Amendment Law, this obligation will extend to all gas market participants starting with 1 January 2019 and will continue to apply without an end date – the current 31 December 2021 end date is eliminated.
Specifically, as of 1 January 2019, all participants (including producers) to the natural gas market, to the extent they contract the sale of natural gas on the wholesale market, have the obligation to sell 50% of the entire quantity of natural gas contracted by them to be delivered in a calendar year, on the centralised wholesale markets (i.e. OPCOM and the Bucharest Commodities Exchange).
In case of purchase of natural gas, the obligation is for a quota of 40%, except for suppliers that have access to only one source of acquiring natural gas (given limitation of interconnection).
These quotas may be increased annually by the Energy Regulatory Authority of Romania following analysis of the natural gas market.
Breach of the obligation to meet such quotas may trigger fines between 5 – 10% of the annual turnover.
Managers of natural gas centralised markets
Currently there are centralised gas markets organised and managed by OPCOM (state owned) and by Romanian Commodities Exchange (privately owned) (BRM). In the past two years there were many discussions on creating a monopoly on managing natural gas centralised markets in favour of OPCOM.
Untimely, the Amendment Law does not create such a monopoly – hence, it introduces certain conditions for entities interested in obtaining license to manage natural gas centralised markets. It also sets out the obligation for the current managers (OPCOM and BRM) to obtain new license within 6 months as of entry into force of the Amendment Law – otherwise their current licenses will cease to be valid at the end of the 6 months period.