On 11 April 2007, the European Commission published a notice to market test commitments designed to meet its concerns that Distrigas could abuse its dominant position under Article 82 of the EC Treaty. The concerns are that the Belgian gas supply market could be foreclosed due to Distrigas' long-term downstream gas supply agreements with industrial consumers and electricity generators. Under the commitments, Distrigas would ensure that on average 70 per cent of the gas it, and connected undertakings, supplied to industrial users and electricity producers in Belgium would be contestable for competitors each year. In addition, no contract with industrial users and electricity producers in Belgium covered by the commitments could have a duration of over five years. To protect Distrigas from having to re-open existing long-term gas supply agreements if the volume of gas it supplied decreased, the commitments allow Distrigas to tie, under long-term contracts, a certain fixed volume of gas representing less than 20 per cent of the market concerned.
The net effect of these two provisions is that Distrigas can tie at most 30 per cent of its existing gas supply volumes under long-term gas supply contracts, or 20 per cent of the market, whichever is higher. The commitments also take into account the potential effects of the GDF/Suez merger. If the merger goes ahead and Distrigas is divested in line with the remedies proposed by the parties in the merger procedure, then the commitments will apply to sales in Belgium of Distrigas and those of its purchaser (unless the purchaser's sales in Belgium can be considered de minimis). If the GDF/Suez merger does not go ahead and Distrigas is not divested, then the commitments will apply to Distrigas and the other members of the Suez group active on the Belgian gas market. In the meantime, Distrigas is being managed as a separate undertaking under the control of an independent trustee and the commitments only apply to Distrigas itself. The notice requests comments from interested parties within one month