The European Union Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) publishes today the 7th edition of its Report on “contractual congestion in EU gas markets and how it is managed". Contractual congestion may signal a reduction of market efficiency. It happens when some network users were not able to obtain the capacity product of their choice and had to rely on congestion-mitigating measures to access the gas market.
In 2019, congestion has increased compared to previous years (37 IP sides in 2019 compared to 31 IP sides in 2018). Most congestion is due to auction premia, which primarily occurred in the auctions of quarterly capacity products.
While the number of congested IP sides remains relatively low, local contractual congestion can be severe and reduce market efficiency.
About 40% of congested IP sides in 2019 have been found congested before. Much less capacity was made available via secondary capacity trading and or as interruptible capacity at congested IP sides than the amount of capacity that has been unsuccessfully requested by network users in primary auctions of firm capacity products.
Transmission System Operators ('TSOs') can apply a number of congestion management procedures ('CMPs') to ensure network users can access the network even when they could not obtain some capacity products in the primary capacity auctions. The Oversubscription mechanism remains the most applied CMP, whereas capacities made available via FDA UIOLI and Surrender mechanisms dropped significantly.
About half of the congested IP sides are already covered by the FDA UIOLI mechanism, while for the other half the respective National Regulatory Authorities (NRAs) need to take action in line with the European Commission's rules on congestion.
The Congestion Report has a narrow scope of analysis, while a substantial amount of congestion data is available for deeper and broader analysis. The Agency shares suggestions for further research and calls on researchers to use the substantial amount of available data to study different aspects of congestion in EU gas markets.
ACER offers paid traineeship combining the onsite work experience and the possibility of contributing to the research on congestion, together with our ACER experts. Find out more about the ACER Traineeship program.