The Natural Gas Market in Romania: How do we guarantee the security and competitiveness of the sector?

The Romanian gas sector is not functional, its  development towards a fair and balanced liberalized market is impeded by major hurdles.

Despite the substantial steps made towards the gas market liberalization within the recent years up to late 2018, some major hurdles are still impeding the emergence of a mature and attractive gas market in Romania.

These hurdles have been identified along the whole value chain from upstream to downstream and affect both the wholesale and retail gas markets. On the one hand, the poor liquidity of the wholesale gas market negatively impacts the whole Romanian gas sector by limiting the attractiveness of investments in gas production and generating low competitive intensity on the retail market.

On the other hand, in the absence of a reliable wholesale market price, the mechanisms put in place to cover the cost of gas supply in the regulated sale tariffs are lacking transparency and predictability.

These uncertainties strongly limit the attractiveness of the segment for potential new entrants. Moreover, the absence of an efficient scheme to protect the vulnerable energy consumers is strongly undermining the political acceptability of the household retail market deregulation.

The recent introduction of the 68 RON/MWh price cap is expected to exacerbate most of the existing hurdles and generate harmful long­term impacts on the Romanian gas sector. 

The Emergency Ordinance GEO 114/2018 introduced by the Romanian Government at the end of 2018 (and amended late March 2019) imposed a 68 RON/MWh price cap on a substantial part of the volumes traded on the wholesale gas market.

Although such a measure mechanically prevents the Romanian household consumers from being exposed to potential price increase in the near future, the application of GEO 114/2018 will clearly exacerbate the illiquidity of the wholesale gas market and generate harmful medium to long-term impacts on the security of supply and gas affordability for end users.

As a matter of fact, the GEO 114/2018 is not addressing the disfunctions of the Romanian gas market at its roots but will furthermore amplify the hurdles impeding the efficient and balanced development of the sector. The mere introduction of a price cap is structurally inconsistent with the  conditions which would allow the development of an attractive and competitive market for producers, retailers and consumers.

In order to overcome these hurdles, a comprehensive roadmap is being proposed to improve the  attractiveness and competitiveness of the gas  sector along the whole value chain

The main objectives of the roadmap are the following ones:

  • Guarantee the affordability of gas for Romanian end users by enhancing the competitive intensity in the household retail market and adapting the protection of the vulnerable energy consumers.
  • Improve the wholesale market liquidity through the full deregulation of the wholesale gas price and the further development of a reliable Romanian price index.
  • Incentivize the investments in the upstream sector and enhance the interconnections  between Romania and the EU gas market
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