The recent decision by the Dutch government to acquire full ownership of the Dutch gas grid has been welcomed as a catalyst towards a liberalized Dutch market. However, despite the advances in market opening the proposed deal will bring, considerable progress still needs to be made in bringing about a meaningfully competitive market in the Netherlands.
The Anglo-Dutch gas pipeline will be a key route for continental gas imported into the UK. Centrica [CNA] is to take 8bcm per year from Gasunie through the BBL, in addition to agreeing a recent 1bcm fixed price contract with Statoil [STL.OL]. Fixed price contracts are particularly appealing right now as a tool to guard against future price volatility and protect margins.
By creating a fully independent transmission system the Dutch government may hasten Nuon's takeover by a foreign utility. However, after European utilities consolidate, fully independent transmission networks may turn out to have been a prescient policy decision.
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