ANRE OFFICIAL POINT OF VIEW: The liberalisation of the natural gas market for non-household users
The liberalisation of the natural gas market has as main outcome the increasing competition on the market. The liberalisation of the natural gas market concretely involves the fact that the National Regulatory Authority for Energy (ANRE) is no longer setting the price of natural gas supplied to end-users, as on the competitive market for natural gas the prices are the result of offer and demand ratio, as a result of competition mechanisms. Thus, the supplier sells natural gas to the end-user at the price and on commercial terms agreed by negotiation or, on instance, at the price and on commercial terms in the standard-form offer for which the end-user has opted. Hence, as a greater number of end-users join the competitive market, the competition between the natural gas suppliers will grow in view of extending the number of clients, acting as a stimulant to offer quality services at affordable prices. Concurrently, the end-users need to have access to information regarding the offers from the natural gas suppliers in order to choose the most advantageous offers from the economic point of view, according to their own user profile. Under the circumstances, an essential measure allowing them to carry their own assessments and comparisons between offers, to have the choice of concluding a contract for natural gas supply in full awareness, is to deliver the end-users the most varied means of information. Thus, having in view the liberalisation of the domestic natural gas market for non-household consumers on January 1, 2015 - according to the provisions of art 179, paragraph (2), letter (a) of the Law on electric power and natural gas no. 123/2012, all subsequent amendments and completions included, and taking into consideration the need to conclude by this date the sale-buying contracts for natural gas supply in negotiated terms, by the ANRE Order no. 107/2014 for agreeing on decisions regarding the supply of natural gas to non-household users in view of eliminating regulated prices, published in the Romania’s Official Monitor, Part I, no. 780/27.10.2014 – a series of legislative measures regarding the supply of natural gas to non-household consumers have been agreed upon in view of eliminating the regulated prices for this category of end-users.
The above mentioned regulatory document has mainly targeted, on one hand, to have the non-household consumers on the regulated market informed by the suppliers on the steps and implications of the liberalisation of the natural gas market, on the basis of monthly notifications. On the other hand, it targeted the rules to be set up regarding the contract basis in which the non-household users are part of, on the background of the transition from the regulated market to a competitive market, in view of assuring continuity in the supply of natural gas during the cold season for the non-household users that haven’t concluded a negotiated sale-buying contract until the moment of market liberalisation.
We also mention that the ANRE President’s Order no. 107/2014 was on a public debate to which representatives of the Competition Council and the National Authority for Consumers’ Protection also took part. Moreover, by official message, ANRE has informed the Ministry of Economy – Department for Energy regarding its approach. No proposals and observations were registered by the time the public debates were concluded.
As a consequence we emphasize that:
• The non-household users on the regulated market were notified on monthly basis by their suppliers during November 1 – December 31, 2014.
• The above mentioned users were informed, through the means of the notification, regarding the cessation of regulated prices applicability on January 1, 2015 and on the need to conclude, until December 31, 2014, the sale-buying negotiated contracts for natural gas supply, on the commercial offer submitted by their supplier and have received information regarding the non-household user’s options if turning down the supplier’s offer;
• In view of delivering fair, complete and accurate information to the non-household users on the regulated market, the ANRE President’s Order 107/2014 has set the obligation of the suppliers, which have in their portfolio non-household users from the regulated market, to submit to the ANRE, in five working days from the date this order was going into force (November 1, 2014), their own notification form including all the demanded information.
• According to the order, ANRE furthermore is to monitor the suppliers to carry out the notification obligations to all the non-household users from the regulated market, as well as the data regarding the supply during the transition period January 1 – June 30, 2015, the suppliers being compelled to deliver the information. We also mention the following:
• Having in view that the liberalisation deadline for non-household users is January 1, 2015, the ANRE President’s Order 107/2014 is setting a transition period during January 1, 2015 – June 30, 2014, during which is provided the continuity of natural gas supply during the cold season for the non-household users that haven’t concluded a negotiated sale-buying contract by the liberalisation deadline;
• If the non-household user turns down the offer coming from the current supplier, there is no risk of being disconnected from the natural gas supply during January 1- June 30, 2015, the user having the following options:
- the option to exert the eligibility right by concluding a new contract following negotiations with the current supplier, to accept its standard form offers or to replace the natural gas supplier. We underline that the “list of economic operators, natural gas supplier license holders” as well as “links to the standard-form offers posted on the internet pages of the suppliers” are posted on the ANRE internet page: http://www.anre.ro/ro/gaze-naturale/informatii-de-interes-public/furnizori-gaze-naturale;
- ensuring the natural gas supply by the current supplier on the basis of the supply contract in force (concluded on the basis of the framework-contract for regulated supply of natural gas, approved by ANRE) at the price included in the offer submitted by the supplier, starting from January 1, 2015 until the date of concluding a new sale-buying negotiated contract by the non-household user for natural gas supplying, no later than June 30, 2015.
All natural gas suppliers have had practically the obligation to notify, on monthly basis, during November 1 – December 31, 2014, the non-household users on the regulated market in their portfolio, in regard to the implications of the liberalisation of the natural gas market by January 1, 2015. By notifications, the above mentioned supplier of the non-household user has submitted also an offer in the event that the non-household user chooses to exert its eligibility right and to conclude a sale-buying negotiated contract for natural gas supply, having also specified the non-household user’s options in the circumstance of turning down the offer. Thus, the user is entitled to choose a natural gas supplier and to negotiate with it its contract or to accept its standard form offer.
In the circumstance that the non-household user on the regulated market did not conclude, until December 31, 2014 at the latest, a sale-buying contract with the current supplier or another supplier, either by negotiation of the price and of the commercial terms or by accepting a standard form offer, he is to be provided with natural gas supply by the current supplier at the price included in the submitted offer starting on January 1, 2015 until the date of concluding by the user of a negotiated supply contract, but no later than June 30, 2015.
Besides, by notification, the users were informed that the “list of economic operators, natural gas supplier license holders” is posted on the National Regulatory Authority for Energy’s site.
At the same time, in order to provide the end-users access to information regarding commercial terms for supplying natural gas, the ANRE Order no. 107/2014 for agreeing on decisions regarding the supply of natural gas to non-household users in view of eliminating regulated prices, published in the Romania’s Official Monitor, Part I, no. 780/27.10.2014, has been elaborated and approved.
In this regard, in order to provide the end-user with the option to compare several offers, the supplier has been compelled to draw up standard-form offers for the categories of end-users included in their portfolio, part of the A1-A2 and B1-B4 categories. The standard-form offers have been posted by the supplier on its internet pages and at the joint contact point, while upon the end-user’s request they are to be provided for free in printed form or in electronic form.
The standard-form offers were to include a minimum amount of information, so that they can be compared. In order to support the users, ANRE has posted on its internet page the “links to the standard-form offers posted on the internet pages of the suppliers” on http://www.anre.ro/ro/gaze-naturale/informatii-de-interes-public/furnizori-gaze-naturale.
By enforcing to the natural gas suppliers the obligation to provide information, ANRE intended to provide the end-users’ easy access to information regarding the offers on the market, updated and including enough details regarding price/service on offer. Such information provide the end-users a proper volume of information, so that they have the option to chose, in full awareness, the natural gas supplier in the context of increased competition between suppliers.