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GDF Suez unit returning retail gas supply licence

Competition

The Hungarian unit of French-owned GDF Suez became the second company in a week to request the withdrawal of its "universal service provider" licence to supply gas to households, the Hungarian Energy and Utilities Regulatory Office (MEKH) said yesterday. 

Universal service providers supply gas using a price structure and level controlled by the state. MEKH said GDF Suezʼs request was made on April 22. At the same time, a request submitted on March 18 was withdrawn because of rules introduced in the meantime guaranteeing consumers continuous gas supply, MEKH said. MEKH confirmed a similar request was made on Friday by the Hungarian unit of German utilities giant E.ON.

The company added that the measure was part of a strategic portfolio restructuring started last year that serves the companyʼs sustainable operation, and the quality and security of its service. MEKH will invite offers from other universal service providers to take over the companiesʼ customers within 15 days of receiving the requests.

Other providers have 20 workdays to declare when they can take over the customers. Offers by providers that can take over all of the customers as well as offers by providers whose licences extend to the area of its peers leaving the market will enjoy an advantage in the evaluation, MEKH said. If no offers are made, or if none of the offers pass muster with MEKH, the office may appoint a supplier or suppliers to take over the clients.

After the supplier selection, the tranfser of customers is expected to take months, MEKH said. Hungaryʼs government earlier mandated a series of utilities price cuts for households. It also established the First National Utilities Company (ENKSZ) to act as an efficient, predictable and cheap utilities provider. ENKSZ started operating on the gas market this month and will later launch on the electricity and district heating markets.


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