Galp Energia was the leader of this national project and participated in every development stage of this sector in Portugal, both in the construction of high and low-pressure infrastructures and in the creation of the Portuguese natural gas market.
Organisation of the natural gas market in Portugal
Until February 2006, the Portuguese natural gas market was organised in two large areas:
- The activities of import, storage, transportation and regasification of natural gas or liquefied natural gas were subject to a sole concession awarded to Transgás, a subsidiary of the Galp Energia Group.
- The local and regional distribution was made under concession or licence awarded to local or regional distribution companies, where Galp Energia holds a significant stake, except Portgás.
Natural gas consumers with annual consumption levels lower than 2 mm³ were supplied by regional distribution companies – concessionaires – and local distribution companies – licensees – while consumers with annual consumption levels equal or higher than 2 mm³ were directly supplied by Transgás.
For large customers, with consumption higher than 50,000 m³, prices were not regulated and were set according to a free-market logic, competitive with other energy products and based on individual contracts. For customers with consumption levels lower than 50,000 m³, the pricing formula and the updates arising from the inflation rate and the price of natural gas were built in the concession agreements.
The situation today
Decree-law no. 30/2006, of 15 February, was the adoption of the EU directive on deregulation of the market for natural gas by the Portuguese state. This decree-law imposed the deregulation of the markets through free access to any company in equal conditions and determined the separation of marketing activities from the activities for operating distribution infrastructure. The directive provides the existence of a regulator for each member state – in Portugal, ERSE – and enforces the publication of the access tariffs to the networks.
According to the new law, in the meanwhile completed with decree-law no. 140/2006, of 26 July, the natural gas distribution companies with over 100,000 customers were bound to legally separate distribution from marketing activities. For the other companies, there was an accounting segregation of the activities.
The new law enforced the creation of last-resort marketing companies, which sell natural gas at a regulated tariff, and free marketing companies, whose sales price of natural gas are set in a free-market logic. For both activitis, the award of a licence by the Portuguese state is required.
Schedule of the sector liberalisation
The new law also set the schedule of the sector liberalisation, which should occur until early 2010.
Value chain of the natural gas sector in Portugal