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ACM warns against disruptions on the balancing market for natural gas

Companies that trade on the international balancing market for natural gas must ensure that they do not disrupt the market forces of supply and demand. Following an investigation into market manipulation by an energy trading company, the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) reminds companies that are active on the balancing market for natural gas of their responsibility.

ACM has decided not to impose a fine on the energy trading company in question because, in this particular case, there is insufficient evidence to establish, beyond any doubt, a violation of Article 5 of the REMIT regulation (Regulation on Wholesale Energy Market Integrity and Transparency). However, the investigation is reason for ACM to clarify its expectations of market participants on the balancing market. In addition, ACM will continue to conduct oversight over trading on the balancing market for natural gas, and it will also continue to enforce compliance with the REMIT regulation.

In order to be able to transport natural gas safely, the gas transport network must be in balance. That means that network pressure is maintained, and that the volume of natural gas going into the network is, on balance, the same as the volume going out. If a company buys natural gas during a balancing action, ACM expects this company to make an effort to extract natural gas from the system in order to rebalance its portfolio, and, in that way, to help rebalance the whole system. It would be an undesirable situation if market participants that are responsible for a share (small or large) of the total imbalance in the system repeatedly bought, during balancing actions of Dutch transmission system operators GTS, significant volumes of natural gas without extracting the same volume from the system. That would harm other market participants, and, under certain circumstances, may be considered market manipulation, which is illegal. Furthermore, it would undermine the proper functioning of the balancing regime.

See also

21-9-2021 Decision that no fine is imposed for a possible violation of the ban on market manipulation (in Dutch)

Obligations under REMIT (in Dutch)