Gas prices have remained below the regulated level, but it is hard to believe that market liberalization will actually take place from 1 July

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Bogdan Tudorache

Prices on the natural gas market have not yet changed, following the announcement of the Executive to impose new ceilings, Gabriel Purice, president of the Romanian Commodities Exchange (BRM), told energynomics.ro.

“Prices are still below the regulated level. No (new trading effects have appeared). Prices are still falling, because industrial consumption has decreased, and the market is in a normal state, without taxes. Any influence disturbs, in the bad sense for consumers,” Gabriel Purice told us.

The Minister of Economy and Energy (MEEMA) recently announced that the Executive will introduce new ceilings for gas prices, in particular, in order to “not allow any speculations”. He said that “ANRE had already provided for price increases since April 1 – unjustified – for certain operators in the field of natural gas”.

“Therefore, I will issue an order explaining the blocking of prices for energy, gas, water and fuels,” said Popescu, at the end of March.

BRM subsequently issued a press release demonstrating the harmful nature of interventions of any kind in the market.

“Honestly, I do not know that there are other countries that have capped gas prices, not even in countries more affected than Romania by COVID-19. The ministry has not issued that cap order yet,” Dumitru Chisăliță, president of the Romanian Intelligent Association, also told energynomics.ro. However, it is hard to believe that the market liberalization, scheduled for July 1, will still take place effectively, given the crisis conditions of the last period. Although it may take place on paper, liberalization will be difficult to implement due to the state of emergency.

“From the statements of the minister, respectively from the legislation in force, GEO 1/2020, but also from the ANRE order, the liberalization will take place. How it will be done is a big problem. We have travel bans, the CRCs (customers relationship centers) of the providers are closed – it remains to be seen how those contracts will be signed, how the gas will be sold, not to mention consumer education – someone has to explain to people what and how to do it. It is difficult to see how it will be implemented, especially since the goal of liberalization is to have an effect at the final consumer – and there are 3.5 million people, most of whom have no way to sign contracts during this period,” also said Chisăliță.

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