Law proposal: natural gas market opened for competition in 2020
On 11 May 2017, the Government gave to the Parliament a proposal concerning a Natural Gas Market Act and certain related acts*. According to the proposal, the wholesale and retail markets for natural gas will be opened for competition in the beginning of 2020.
For more than 40 years the natural gas consumed in Finland has come from Russia via pipelines. Opening the markets diversifies the supply of natural gas in Finland as in the future the alternatives to Russian gas include, besides biogas and liquefied natural gas, purchasing gas from the Baltic States and, after the connecting pipeline between Lithuania and Poland has been opened, from Central Europe.
Transmission network to be unbundled from gas sales
By the new act the natural gas transmission network of the transmission network operator will be separated from the production and sale of natural gas by 2020 using the so-called effective unbundling model in the EU Directive on the internal market for natural gas. This will ensure that the transmission network operator acts as a neutral party maintaining the marketplaces, also in terms of new entrants to the market, and that the development of the natural gas transmission system and market will be guided by a comprehensive perspective on the market as a whole.
Increased competition in the supply of natural and renewable gas creates opportunities for the companies in the sector and gas users to diversify their procurement. New business opportunities are created for companies in the natural gas sector and it will also be easier for new suppliers to enter the market. Competition steers the market to function more efficiently and brings cost savings in the long term.
The aim is also to improve the competitiveness of natural gas. There will be less regulation concerning the wholesale and retail operations and distribution and, for the most part, the specific regulation of the pricing of natural gas will be abolished
Ceiling to unreasonable increases of transmission and distribution fees
According to the proposal, provisions are to be included in the Electricity Market Act and Natural Gas Market Act that limit unreasonable increases of the transmission and distribution fees of electricity and gas. An annual ceiling of 15% is proposed for increases in the fees.
The ceiling does not allow repeated 15% increases. The change means that the kind of excessive raises we have seen so far can be avoided. To ensure reasonable pricing, this will continue to be monitored by the Energy Authority, which will interfere if violations are detected.
The legislation on the natural gas market should enter into force on 1 January 2018, provisions concerning the separation of the activities of the transmission network operator and opening the natural gas market for competition on 1 January 2020, and the Act Amending the Electricity Market Act as soon as possible.
Arto Rajala, Ministerial Counsellor, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, tel. +358 29 506 4828
Jyrki Peisa, Special Adviser to the Minister for Housing, Energy and the Environment, tel. +358 50 364 0836
The legislative proposal given by the Government on 11 May 2017 concerns the Act on Separating the Activities of the Natural Gas Transmission Network Operator, Act Amending the Act on the Control of the Electricity and Natural Gas Market, Act Amending the Electricity Market Act, and Act Amending section 2 of the Act on Excise Duty on Electricity and Certain Fuels. The Natural Gas Market Act now in force is to be repealed.