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Dis-harmony in European Natural Gas Market(s)—Discussion of Standards and Definitions

Mangelnde Harmonisierung im europäischen Erdgasmarkt – Diskussion ausgewählter Standards und Definitionen

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The European Union attempts to harmonise the European natural gas market(s). In general, this is supported on national levels. Nevertheless, such harmonisation is not yet fully accomplished: neither for the rules nor for the quality specifications nor for the physical quantities and their units. Even if the current economic impact of such dis-harmony is negligible, i.e. that market participants for the time being do not have to bear additional costs caused by the lack of harmonisation, participants in the commodity market are exposed to contractual risks. Potentially, this might lead to reduced competition and reduced liquidity of each single and the European internal market for natural gas.

However, as the costs for a potential harmonisation of European gas markets are estimated to be significant, the dilemma is evident and the ‘political’ solution of the ‘harmonisation problem’ will necessarily deviate from the traders’ one.


Die Europäische Union ist bestrebt, die Regeln des europäischen Erdgasmarkts zu harmonisieren. Dieses Vorhabenwird von den Mitgliedsstaaten unterstützt. Allerdings wurde die Harmonisierung noch nicht vollständig umgesetzt: dies gilt sowohl für die Qualitätsspezifikationen als auch für die relevanten physikalischen Größen und deren Einheiten. Zwar sind die wirtschaftlichen Auswirkungen der mangelnden Harmonisierungnoch vernachlässigbar. Denn die Marktteilnehmer tragen zurzeit nicht derenzusätzlichen Kosten. Dennoch werden vor allem Händler dadurch vertraglichen Risiken ausgesetzt. Potenziell kann dies eingeschränkten Wettbewerb und eine reduzierte Liquidität der jeweiligen nationalen Märkte bzw. des europäischen Binnenmarktes für Erdgas zur Folge haben.

Daaber anzunehmen ist, dass die Kosten einer Harmonisierung der europäischen Erdgasmärkte hoch wären, ist das Dilemma offensichtlich und die „politische“ Lösung des „Harmonisierungsproblems“ wird nicht notwendigerweise der von den Händlern gewünschten entsprechen.

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  1. See inter alia GTE (2001).

  2. See e.g. van Stiphout (2009).

  3. European Commission (2012).

  4. European Commission (2007).

  5. GLE (2011), p. 2.

  6. See Groenendijk (2006), p. 5.

  7. See Groenendijk (2006), p. 5.

  8. Natural gas quality parameters and their respective specification in different European countries have already been investigated by several authors, e.g. Hafner et al. (2008), GL Noble Denton, Pöyry Management Consulting (2011), Williams (2009); Coyle et al. ( Still, the conclusions drawn from these studies are heterogeneous as well as the data. However, such existing studies shall neither be replicated nor corrected.

  9. Marcogaz (2002), p. 2.

  10. Marcogaz (2002), p. 2.

  11. Due to the lack of data a quantification of such effect is neither reasonable nor appropriate.

  12. Harris et al. (2010), p. 7.

  13. Whether potential overlapping regulation in view of REMIT (Regulation on Wholesale Energy Market Integrity and Transparency) or MiFiD (Markets in Financial Instruments Directive) is beneficial or harmful is not object of investigation of this article.

  14. Harris et al. (2010), p. 1.

  15. CEER (2011).

  16. The physical and chemical composition and hence the quality of natural gas depends on the geological source and treatment facilities. As a consequence of diversification of sources and transportation routes the (quality) parameters of the natural gas delivered to and within different European countries are not identical.

  17. Demtröder (2005), p. 285.

  18. Thus the ‘15 calorie’ (also called the gram-calorie, or small calorie) was defined as the amount of heat that will raise the temperature of 1 gram of water from 14.5 to 15.5 C—equal to 4.1855 joules. Other less common definitions in this series are the 20 calorie (4.18190 joules) from 19.5 to 20.5 C; and the mean calorie (4.19002 joules) defined as 1/100 of the heat necessary to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water from 0 to 100 C.” Britannica (2012).

  19. In countries where more than one quality of gas exists, H-gas was selected (relevant in DE, NL, BE, FR, PL, HU).

  20. Williams (2009), p. 4; in this respect see also: Emerson (2007) or Gallagher (2006), p. 27.

  21. Charmaine (2011).

  22. With regard to Belgium the maximal minimum of 14.17 kWh/m3 and the minimal maximum of 15.05 kWh/m3 (for H-Gas) are the extreme values of the Wobbe index at different border points. Such values are inside the range defined in the Royal Decree of February 1984 of 13.65 kWh/m3 (=49.13 MJ/m3) and 15.78 (=56.82 MJ/m3). The detailed values for Belgium are summarised in Appendix A.

  23. EASEE-gas (2010); Groenendijk (2006).

  24. Eurogas (2012).

  25. Eurogas (2012).

  26. For the avoidance of doubt, the maximum mercaptan content constitutes a risk or trade barrier for an international trader only if odorants are added upstream of distribution networks.

  27. Not only for the parameters discussed above, but also for all other relevant ones.

  28. GL Noble Denton, Pöyry Management Consulting (2011), p. i.

  29. GL Noble Denton, Pöyry Management Consulting (2011), p. i.

  30. In natural gas delivery contracts such periods may even deviate from the ones discussed hereinafter.

  31. See example in Fig. 10.

  32. In many cases the time periods relevant for the transportation are identical to the ones used in natural gas delivery contracts.

  33. All time refers to “GMT/UTC+1”. Hence, the different definitions of a day (either gas day or storage gas day) are comparable. However, storage gas days are not always clearly defined: several SSOs do not mention them in their standard contracts.

  34. Eurogas (2012).

  35. Most of the described parameters are not negotiable for traders. They are either caused by national laws or they are caused by TSOs’ and/or SSOs’—not negotiable—standard contracts. Therefore, traders find themselves in a “take-it-or-leave-it”-position. Either they accept the commercial risks involved or they do not conclude a deal at all.

  36. The analysis presented in this paper has led us to conclude at high level that a net benefit would not materialise from harmonisation of Europe’s gas quality specifications.” GL Noble Denton, Pöyry Management Consulting (2011), p. i.


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Correspondence to Andrej Pustisek.

Additional information

Note: In case of different operators within one country redundant information is not quoted separately, but only one is chosen. In some cases information about relevant time periods has been received by personal communication (e.g. ES, SE, SK) which is not quoted below.

The analysis presented in this paper is based on different national laws or regluatory rules as well as contracts or general terms and conditions published by several national TSOs and SSOs. These are summarized in Appendix B.


Appendix A: Wobbe Index Bandwidths at Entry/Exit Points to/from Belgium

Delivery point

Wobbe index Max [kWh/m3]

Wobbe index Min [kWh/m3]

Zeebrugge LNG



Zeebrugge ZPT



Zeebrugge IZT



Zeebrugge hub out

No specific requirements

No specific requirements

Zelzate 1



Zelzate 2



Zandvlieth H






Zandvliet L



Loenhout Storage



S Gravenvoeren (D900)



S Gravenvoeren (D400)






Eynatten 1 WGT



Eynatten 2 OGE






Athus (Petange)



Blaregnies Segeo



Blaregnies Troll



Blaregnies L



Appendix B: Relevant National Laws, Regluatory Rules, Contracts and General Terms and Coniditons

Bulgartransgaz (2012a), Bulgartransgaz (2012c), Centrica (2012), Commission for Energy Regulation (2009), Creos (2009), Creos (2012), DESFA (2011), DESFA (2012), DONG (2010), DONG (2012), Enagás, REN (2009), Enagás (2010), Enagás (2012), (2012a), (2012b), EON Földgaz Storage (2010), EON Földgaz Storage (2011a), EON Földgaz Storage (2011b), EON Gas Storage (2012a), EON Gas Storage GmbH (2012b), ERSE (2010), Eustream (2005), Eustream (2011), FGSZ (2009), FGSZ (2012), Fluxys (2008), Fluxys (2011), Fluxys (2012a), Fluxys (2012b), Gas Connect Austria (2012), Gas Safety (Management) Regulations (1996), Gas Transport Services (2011), Gasföringen (2008), GasLink (2012), Gaz-System (2011), Gaz-System (2012), Gazprom Export (2008), Government of the Hellenic Republic (2010), GRTgaz (2011a), GRTgaz (2011b), GRTgaz (2012), ICIS Heren (2008), Interconnector (UK) Limited (2010), Joint Office of Gas Transporters (2005), KEMA (2010), MMBF Natural Gas Storage (2012), Nafta (2011), Nationalgrid (2012), Net4Gas (2011), OMV Gas (2010), OMV Gas Storage (2012), Open Grid Europe (2011), PGNiG (2012), Plinovodi (2012a), Plinovodi (2012b), Pozagas (2010), Republike Slovenje (2005), RWE Gas Storage (2012), S.G.I. Società Gasdotti Italia (2011), Snam Rete Gas (2005), Snam Rete Gas (2009), Snam Rete Gas (2012), Stogit (2010), Stogit (2012), Storengy (2012), Swedegas (2011), Sweden (2001), Taqa Gas Storage (2011), Transgaz (2011), Transgaz (2012a), Transgaz (2012b).

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Drasdo, P., Karasz, M. & Pustisek, A. Dis-harmony in European Natural Gas Market(s)—Discussion of Standards and Definitions. Z Energiewirtsch 37, 143–156 (2013).

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