Gassco Changes Make Norway Gas Flows Harder to Gauge - Analysts

OSLO (Reuters) - Norwegian gas pipeline operator Gassco launched a revamped data website this week that switches away from live physical flows, drawing criticism from analysts who say it has reduced transparency in a key energy market.

A Gassco control room in Norway. (photo: Øyvind Sætre/Gassco)

Gassco operates over 5,468 miles (8,800 km) of pipelines, several processing plants and receiving terminals in Britain, Germany, Belgium and France. Outages at these installations can impact European gas prices and are closely watched by the market.

Instead of the live flow data, Gassco's redesigned website now shows only aggregated daily nominations, or shippers' formal requests to transport gas, which indicate how much capacity shippers have booked for the current gas day.

That is problematic, analysts say.

"I don't mind seeing live nominations, but not having live flows is annoying, and makes it considerably harder to judge the impact of outages with 'unknown' consequences," a UK-based analyst at a large gas trading company told Reuters, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.

"It's a nightmare, they are removing quite a bit of transparency," said a senior gas analyst at another company, who also questioned the short notice about the changes given to the market.

Gassco only posted a notice on Nov. 23 – a week before the switch. "They could have told us about this months ago," said the analyst, who also declined to be named.

Gassco says the new website publishes information about gas system operations according to EU-wide standards and consistent with reporting by other companies in Europe.

However, Britain's gas system operator National Grid reports both nominations and physical flows in real time.

The aggregated daily exit nomination was real-time information and continuously updated every five minutes, Gassco told Reuters in an emailed statement.

Shippers will change their nominations when they are made aware of a curtailment, which would have an immediate effect on the nomination listed on the website, a Gassco spokeswoman said.

Norway is not an EU member state, but meets more than 20% of the EU's gas needs and is the main external gas supplier to Britain.


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