A week in the life of the Finnish and the Baltic natural gas markets
A lot of progress as regards an open natural gas market has been made in one week. Or it appears as if it has taken place in one week, but behind these recent events are months and, in certain respects years, of preparation. Last week on Friday (5 October 2018), Gasum organized a half-day seminar about the Reforming Natural Gas Markets (Uudistuva maakaasumarkkina). A very impressive group of natural gas users, distributors, representatives from the Energy Authority and government ministries, experts, and other co-operating parties attended and participated in the discussions. The seminar encompassed very important topics, from the progress made in the construction of the Balticconnector-pipeline to the status of the market rules, the introduction of the new gas transmission system operator (Suomen Kaasunsiirtopalvelut Oy), a description of the changes in the natural gas markets act that still need to be made to facilitate the opening up of the market, and the role of the Energy Authority in the opening process. The seminar was attended by close to 100 participants, which is hopefully a good indication of the number of new participants enjoying the benefits of the opening gas market. There are new rules and responsibilities that need to be accepted and new form of cooperation that need to be established. The good news is that we are all in this together, learning the new ways to operate together.
To facilitate this opening up of the market even further, today the transmission system operators (TSOs) and Baltic Connector Oy announced that the TSOs have signed a joint Memorandum of Understanding to illustrate their willingness to continue co-operation in the future to improve the functioning of their respective national gas markets. The memorandum of understanding is a very important sign of positive cooperation between the TSOs in this region. The Memorandum of Understanding is also open in the sense that other TSOs will be able to join the discussions at a later stage. According to the press releases of these TSOs, the Memorandum of Understanding sets out the matters, terms and definitions which need to be agreed upon if the Baltic countries and Finland decide to proceed with market integration in the future. This integration requires a separate political decision from the countries involved.
As we can all witness, things are moving fast and the success of the upcoming market is dependent on all of us working together. We are really looking forward to cooperating with natural gas users, regulators and TSOs to develop new opportunities for everyone.