The Competition Authority’s main tasks in the field of natural gas:
- approving a network operator’s network service prices;
- approving the sales price margin of the market’s dominating gas enterprise;
- inspecting and approving connection fee guidelines and methodologies;
- approving the standard terms and conditions of network service contracts and sales contracts;
- inspecting the fulfilment of quality requirements.
The gas market is regulated by the Natural Gas Act, which sets out the requirements for gas importers, transmitters, sellers and distributors. In Estonia, the main areas of using natural gas are heat production and industry.
Since 1 March 2016, Estonian gas system is operated by Elering AS (100% owned by Estonian government). Since the start of 2016, Elering AS combined the electricity and gas transmission networks into a single undertaking and continues its activities as a combined system operator.
In 2016, the Competition Authority conducted a process of assessment i.e. so-called certification of the natural gas system operator. Upon assessment, the Competition Authority followed not only the bases set out in the Natural Gas Act but also the requirements set out in the Regulation (EC) No 715/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council (on conditions for access to the natural gas transmission networks). European Commission agreed with the Competition Authority’s draft resolution and the Authority confirmed the enterprise’s compliance with the requirements in its December 2016 resolution.
Elering AS as the system operator owns Estonian transmission network, with the total length of 885 km (includes 43 km of transit pipes, 36 gas distribution stations (GDS) and 3 gas metering stations (GMS)). The largest enterprise providing the distribution service is AS Gaasivõrk (a subsidiary of Eesti Gaas AS), owning a 1,486 kilometre distribution network. In addition to AS Gaasivõrk, Estonia has 20 active natural gas distribution enterprises, owning a total of ca 648 km of distribution networks.
Open gas market
Estonian gas market has been open since 2007. In the open gas market, every consumer can choose a gas seller suitable for them, regardless of whose network the consumption point is connected to.
In 2018, 8 sellers and 18 network operators were active as retail sellers. The number of gas buyers in the retail gas market is 51.8 thousand customers, 47.7 thousand of them residential consumers. In 2018, a total of 2-058 consumers changed their gas seller, 1,827 of them residential consumers (in 2017, a total of 3,029 consumers changed their gas seller, 2,798 of them residential consumers). Thus, 4% of all customers changed their gas seller in 2018.