The parliament adopted the waiver of the obligation of the state gas supplier Bulgargaz to sell part of its quantities of natural gas to the Balkan gas hub (local gas exchange) in order to provide liquidity to the state gas exchange and participate in the liberalization of the market.
This obligation for “Bulgargaz” was adopted by the BG Parliament in 2019, and for the next five years specific quotas were set for their release on the liberalised gas market until the end of 2024. These quantities were allocated under the so-called Natural Gas Release Program. It has now been canceled by the Parliament. Initially it was introduced as an instrument at the insistence of the European institutions with the aim of liberalising and opening the gas market in Bulgaria. The reason for the existence of the Programme is the dominant position of Bulgargaz in the national market and the impossibility of competitors to effectively enter the market. According to market participants, for the last 2-3 years, through the introduced Natural Gas Release Program, the liquidity of the gas market has increased significantly. Many new suppliers have joined and supplied gas to end consumers in the country. Some of them are large international companies.
However, since “Gazprom” stopped deliveries to “Bulgargaz”, the company regularly cancels the monthly auctions under the program with the excuse that it does not have enough quantities to be able to release for free trade. The last such canceled auction was scheduled to take place on November 14 on the Balkan gas hub exchange platform.
The European Federation of Energy Traders (EFET) has spoken out against the suspension of the Natural Gas Release Programme. According to EFET:
- Gas release programme gave consumers the opportunity to choose the supplier, encouraging the latter to offer the most suitable products at the best price;
- The abolition of the programme will benefit the former incumbent, leaving other companies at a disadvantage, potentially forcing them out of business as they are no longer able to source gas at a competitive price;
- Prices for end-customers will likely increase over time, as the incentive to present competitive offers is weakened. Indeed, with negligible volumes being traded via the transparent market, it will be difficult for anyone to determine what a “fair price” actually is in Bulgaria.
The EFET position is published at: