Return to state regulation in gas market means rollback in implementation of reform – Kopač
The return to state regulation of the price on the gas market is a huge step back in the process of reforming this market, Head of the European Energy Community Secretariat Janez Kopač has said.
The gas market has become a success story in 2018, as well as in 2020 with the abolition of public special obligations (PSO) for households. Now, this has changed and means a huge step back, Kopač said at the Energy Club discussion on the topic "Will Ukraine continue the reform of the gas market?" held on Thursday.
He said that in general he is unhappy with this retreat and hopes everyone will forget about it very soon, Kopač said.
According to him, many positive things were done last year, as well as measures were taken to allow consumers to change their gas supplier, but now this process has been rather aggressively interrupted by the decision of the government.
Expressing his understanding of the government's concern about the increase in gas prices, the head of the Secretariat said that the extension of restrictions after March 31 would have a negative impact on the market and would threaten market reforms in Ukraine.
If this measure lasts until the end of March, the market will somehow survive, but if it takes longer, then if it does not kill the market, it will additionally threaten the existence of market reforms in Ukraine, he said.
He expressed the opinion that the measures taken by the government to regulate the gas price should be combined with other measures that would improve the competitive environment, pointing out, in particular, the need to ensure equal access for all market participants to Ukrainian gas, which the Secretariat has repeatedly emphasized.
If cheaper Ukrainian gas from Ukrgazvydobuvannia were available on equal terms to different market players, perhaps, to begin with, not all of its amount, but at least a quarter or a third of it would be available to everyone, the head of the Secretariat said.
Kopač called the abolition of the gas price cap at the end of March, the introduction of a mandatory program for access to gas produced domestically, and further refinement of measures to change suppliers the most important next steps expected from Ukraine.
At the same time, he drew attention to the fact that, according to the experience of European countries, the process of changing them takes some time.
Each market needs time to develop. In every EU country where change of suppliers became possible, little happened in the first year, but then an information campaign came on the scene, and similar things, and consumers began to actively change suppliers, he explained.
Kopač also dwelled on the need to ensure equal access to the consumer base for all market players.
There is one more point, and this is also a long-standing request of Naftogaz, to have transparent access to data on consumers and their specific codes, which will allow other suppliers to promote their proposals for supplies, the EU official said.
In addition, the head of the Energy Community Secretariat called on the government to clearly define the concept of a vulnerable consumer, stressing that Energy Minister Yuriy Vitrenko touched upon this topic, but did not disclose it.
At the same time, he expressed the opinion that it was precisely such consumers that actually needed to be protected. At the same time, he said, the lack of a correct definition of the category of vulnerable consumer also led to price reductions for all consumers, which Kopač called a populist measure.
It was more for the media and not for improving the market environment, Kopač said.