The Bundeskartellamt has no competition concerns about the way in which the major German gas importers and wholesalers Uniper, RWE and EnBW/VNG are currently planning to work together to set up and operate the planned floating LNG terminals in Wilhelmshaven and Brunsbüttel.
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Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt: “The rapid commissioning of the LNG terminals can create urgently needed and price-reducing import capacities for gas in a relatively short period of time. The advantages for consumers associated with this outweigh any negative effects on competition.
"In normal times the cooperation between these three very important gas importers and wholesalers and especially the exclusive use of import capacities at the terminals would possibly have to be assessed more critically. It was also important for us that the planned operator model is initially set up for a limited period until 31 March 2024.”
In August 2022 the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK) signed an agreement with the gas wholesalers Uniper, RWE and EnBW/VNG to set up and operate the planned floating LNG terminals (so-called floating storage and regasification units, “FSRU terminals”) in Brunsbüttel and Wilhelmshaven.
The agreement sets out that both terminals will be operated by Uniper and RWE. The liquid gas will be supplied to the two terminals by Uniper, RWE and EnBW, or more specifically its subsidiary VNG, on the basis of fixed supply quotas.
Both terminals are scheduled to already go into operation at the turn of the year 2022/2023. The companies involved undertake to make full use of the supply slots agreed between them until 31 March 2024.
The companies involved will continue to procure liquid gas independently of one another on the world market. The marketing of the imported gas will also be carried out separately.
The joint operation of LNG terminals, especially their exclusive use by Uniper, RWE and EnBW/VNG and thus the initial inaccessibility of these terminals to other gas importers and wholesalers, rather tends to restrict competition.
These potentially negative effects are, however, currently offset by obvious and substantial benefits for customers. The rapid commissioning can create urgently needed and price-reducing import capacities for gas in a relatively short period of time.
In addition, it should be taken into account that developing a viable access model for additional gas importers would require some lead time. A complex access model also including additional providers might not ensure the urgently needed maximum utilisation of the terminals, at least not in the short term. ■
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