The National Energy Regulatory Agency of the Republic of Moldova (ANRE-MD) has decided to provisionally appoint Vestmoldtransgaz as the operator of the national natural gas transport system. The date of the physical and documented takeover of the operation of the entire natural gas system in the republic by the company controlled by Transgaz could be September 19, 2023, if Moldovatransgaz, controlled by Gazprom, does not complete the separation process in relation to the company vertically integrated and will not submit the certification application accompanied by the appropriate documents.
The obligation to unbundle natural gas transmission system operators is a requirement of the European Union’s Energy Package III and, respectively, Directive 2009/73/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 July 2009 on common rules for the internal gas market natural resources, as well as a commitment assumed with the accession of the Republic of Moldova to the Energy Community Treaty.
On June 12, 2023, Moldovagaz informed ANRE-MD about the impossibility of submitting all the documents necessary to complete the separation and certification process of the company according to the Independent Transport Operator (OTI) model. “First of all, this is due to the lack of consensus among the company’s main shareholders on some aspects, which should have preceded the approval of the necessary documents to apply for the Moldovatransgaz certification”, states the press release. The Minister of Energy from the Republic of Moldova, Victor Pârlicov, says that Gazprom, the majority shareholder of Moldovagaz, opposes the de-monopolization of the gas market and the independence of the gas transport system from the supply system of the Republic of Moldova.
The Minister of Energy, quoted by TVR Moldova, states that Chisinau officials anticipated that Gazprom would try to block this process and prepared the backup plan. “If the company does not comply, ANRE-MD will appoint another operator to operate the transport network”.
The main role of the independent operator of the transmission system in accordance with the requirements of the Energy Package III is to ensure non-discriminatory access to natural gas transmission networks of system users, which will increase the competitiveness of the natural gas market in the Republic of Moldova.
Gazprom, which controls Moldovatransgaz, was until recently the main supplier of natural gas to the Republic of Moldova. Reliance on a single supplier like Gazprom makes the country vulnerable to political or economic pressures. By eliminating the control exercised by the Gazprom supplier over Moldovatransgaz, the Republic of Moldova can explore other energy options, establish and strengthen relationships with alternative suppliers, promoting energy security. At the same time, an independent system operator can encourage market transparency and efficiency in order to ensure competitive natural gas prices.