The impact of gas and contract release programs on the Hungarian gas marketUploaded: 1 of February, 2008

The gas market in European Union is highly concentrated and characterized by the dominance of the former incumbents. The national competition authorities and the European Commission try to impose measures on these incumbent companies to release part of the contracted (mostly) import gas sources to third parties. Whenever they authorize mergers or carry out investigations related to market power abuse they often include in the remedies the obligation to carry out gas and/or contract release programs. Our project includes two studies. The first investigates the European experience based on the cases of Denmark, the UK, Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria and Turkey. The main question is whether the original goal to enhance market liquidity and enforce competition on the national markets was achieved. The second study covers the Hungarian experience. As known the EC obliged EON Földgáz Trade Zrt. to implement a gas release program between 2006 and 1012 when permitting EON Ruhrgas International the acquisition of the gas wholesale marketing and trade as well as the gas storage activities of MOL.

In 2007 we published an overview of European gas release program with the support of the Centre of Competition Culture. This study is about the experience of Hungarian gas and contract release programs. Both programs were established with criteria set by the European Commission in order to approve E.On buying Mol’s gas storage business. The study includes an analysis of the Hungarian program, a series of interviews with the publisher of the program, the regulatory agency, and with the EU’s trustee and market players.