France prepares for gas trading exchange

Gaz de France, its transmission subsidiary GRTgaz, and Total SA's transmission operator Total Infrastructure Gaz France have given strong support to the Powernext project to set up a gas trading exchange in France.

Doris Leblond
OGJ Correspondent

PARIS, May 20 -- Gaz de France, its transmission subsidiary GRTgaz, and Total SA's transmission operator Total Infrastructure Gaz France (TIGF) have given strong support to the Powernext project to set up a gas trading exchange in France, considered essential to developing a competitive market.

GDF and GRTGaz have become shareholders of Powernext through a 6.6% and 5% stake respectively to help develop the project. Each will have a seat on the board of directors.

TIGF "will implement the appropriate operating conditions to facilitate it."

The exchange, said Powernext officials, "will promote the emergence of an efficient liquid and transparent market as requested by France's Energy Regulatory Commission and the European Commission. There will be a matching of supply and demand in transparent and nondiscriminatory conditions and the setting up of a price reference for the French market."

Powernext Chief Executive Officer Jean-Francois Cornil-Lacoste said he is "fully determined to create in the very near future a liquid and transparent national gas market, a necessary step prior to the creation of a truly European gas market." He said a preliminary market model will soon be disclosed to the market players, who, as an expert group, will then finalize specifications of the products and services offered.

At this stage, the launch of a spot market is expected by yearend on all of France's balancing zones (which will be reduced to three on Jan. 1, 2009) as well as the launch of a futures market with physical delivery in the North zone, indicated Powernext.

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