Incorrect perceptions of gas transport tariffs in the mediaGroningen
Some sections of the media are giving an inaccurate portrayal of the tariffs calculated by Gasunie’s network operator GTS over the last few years. These sections of the media are referring to a phrase taken from the press release issued 17 May 2011 by the regulator, the NMa (Dutch Competition Authority) on the new draft method decisions for gas transport. The press release mentions an estimated amount of 1 billion euros that is said to have been overcharged.
This view, that Gasunie has charged its customers tariffs that are too high, is unjust and untrue. And that's also not possible, because it is the regulator itself which determines the level of these tariffs. The courts have declared invalid not the accuracy of the GTS tariffs, but the methodology laid down by the NMa on whose basis these tariffs were determined.
The NMa's calculation of the tariffs that GTS may charge is based on the value of Gasunie's assets (pipelines, installations). In 2005, the transport arm of the then integrated gas trading and transport company Gasunie was split off. This transport company is Gasunie now. Subsequently, in 2008 the minister laid down a policy guideline which determined an asset value of 6.4 billion euros.
The tariffs of the last few years have been based on a method decision laid down by the NMa in which this policy guideline played a key role. However, this method decision was annulled in 2010, because it came about via the direct involvement of the Minister for Economic Affairs (at the time). Last year, the Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal (CBb) decided that this should not have been permitted. In its current draft method decisions, the NMa makes new considerations and states that the assets have to be valued lower than was decided in the policy guideline at the time. Following on from this new principle, the NMa asserts that the tariffs charged over the last few periods – which were determined within the framework laid down by the NMa – must, in retrospect, be considered as being too high.
We therefore have to draw the conclusion that the tariffs charged by GTS were not incorrect, but that the methodology laid down by the NMa on the basis of which these tariffs were set is what has been destroyed by the courts.
Gasunie's tariffs, under the NMa's regime, have been steadily falling over the last few years. They have been among the lowest in Europe for years.