The Commission of Industry and Services from the Chamber of Deputies has decided to maintain OPCOM’s privileges regarding the gas trading, but has sweetened the obligation for all the gas agreements to go into the centralized market by introducing a mandatory 70% quota. If the plenum of the Chamber of Deputies accepts the new form of the law approving the Emergency Ordinance 64/2016, 30% of the volumes of gas traded in one year could be the subject of bilateral agreements. The Romanian Commodities Exchange is seen to be eliminated from the wholesale natural gas market and threatens to attack the law “by all means, both in the country at the Constitutional Court and in other courts, as well as at the European Commission”.
The majority of PSD from the Commission for Industries and Services led by deputy Iulian Iancu voted for the introduction of a single centralized market operator for the wholesale segment – OPCOM – with the argument that this will guarantee the obtaining of a relevant reference price: “To establish a reference price in a country, you must have as many competitors as possible on the same platform. […] When you do not identify a reference price, you do not create a real competition, you have disadvantaged the economy and the consumer”, explained Iulian Iancu and supported the position within the Commission.
PNL rejects the single trading platform and the 70% quota on the stock exchange
On the other hand, the PNL representative, vice-president of the Commission, Virgil Popescu, announced that the National Liberal Party will ask for the resubmission of the project in the Commission, as it happened on June 27th, referring to the provisions as “unacceptable”: the exclusion of the trading platform of the BRM, by law, “what seems to me to be anticompetitive, namely the imposition of a very high share of gas volumes that should be forcely traded on the centralized markets, 70%.” Virgil Popescu has linked the trading of natural gas and the prospect of the development of new gas exploitation in Romania: “We need to clarify whether or not we want gas exploitations in the Black Sea. I strongly believe that we must have these gas exploits as an alternative to Russian gas. Consequently, we must not block the long-term bilateral agreements (futures) which Exxon and OMV want to perform for financing the exploitation”, said the PNL deputy.
In a press release prior to the vote in the Commission, the Romanian Association of Petroleum Exploration and Production Companies (ROPEPCA) called for “wisdom and fairness in discussing the introduction of a monopoly in a free market” and warned about the risks that such a decision raises regarding the proper functioning of the natural gas market. “In the opinion of the ROPEPCA members, the voted amendments could have a direct negative impact upon the development of the Romanian natural gas infrastructure and interconnection with neighboring countries, because infrastructure investments usually require long-term payment commitments from the market participants”, said the press release.
Gabriel Purice, president of the Romanian Commodities Exchange, quoted the Bursa daily, saying that he hoped that the amendments introduced in the Commission for Industries would be rejected in the plenary of the Chamber of Deputies. “It is still unclear how a 30-year license can be withdrawn, which has led to the operationalization of a beneficial market for all the participants and, despite the misinformations of Mr. Iulian Iancu, and for the final consumers”, said Gabriel Purice.