The Government of the Netherlands aims at becoming the Western-European Gas Roundabout. As a consequence of that intention, a variety of gas(quality) shall enter into the Dutch national grid. Parallel to that development is the assignment by the Netherlands Energy Regulator (de Energiekamer) to the joint Dutch grid managers to draft conditions for (i) the feeding-in of gas at the national grid and (ii) quality standards for gas at entry-points.
With respect to the feeding-in of gas, the joint grid managers introduced in February 2010 the Invoedwaarden Gas-LNB or "Feed-In Conditions".
With respect to gas quality, the national legislator recently came up with a legislative proposal on gas quality and the role of the national grid manager, GTS, in that respect (the "Proposal").
The draft Feed-In Conditions shall form part of the "Technical Codes" and are still subject to further deliberation between the market parties and the regulator. The current draft Feed-In Conditions rule the following topics:
- The introduction of the "feed-in installation manager" (invoedingsinstallatiebeheerder), i.e.: (i) the manager of a gas production network, (ii) the manager of a biogas production network, (iii) a gas storage company or (iv) an LNG-company feeding gas into the national gas grid;
- the terms and conditions for making the feed-in installation and the national gas grid compatible and operational with each other;
- GTS allows gas fed into the national gas grid only if (i) there is a transportation agreement arranging the feed-in, and (ii) a programme responsibility party bears the programme responsibility. GTS and the feed-in installation manager shall document supplemental arrangements on the feeding-in of gas and the feed-in installation in separate agreements;
- the feed-in installation manager shall procure - and has to prove every time before the connection (between the feed-in installation and the national grid) will be become operational - that the feed-in installation complies with safety laws and regulations to ensure that it poses no danger to the functioning of the national gas grid. GTS may disconnect the connection if the feed-in installation manager does not comply with this obligation;
- GTS notifies (and thereby sets) the minimum and maximum delivery pressure at the relevant connection point to each feed-in installation manager. Any changes to the minimum and maximum delivery pressure will be notified two years in advance. It will be the responsibility of the feed-in installation manager to set the delivery pressure at the prevailing pressure in the national gas grid;
- as long as the gas fed in the national grid complies with set conditions, GTS may not refuse the gas. If gas does not meet these conditions, GTS may still accept such gas however at the risk and account for the feed-in installation manager. In addition, the gas will not contain any components or impurities which prevents such gas from transportation, storage or marketing in or via the Netherlands without making costs for quality adaption. A breach of this latter condition entitles GTS to refuse such gas, or to impose (financial) conditions on the acceptance of such gas.
The draft Feed-In Conditions and other relevant information can be found at the website of the Energiekamer. The finalisation of the Feed-In Conditions is put on hold pending adoption of the Proposal.
Proposal on Gas Quality
Although the government expects that the Netherlands remains to be a gas-exporting country for the next 15 years, the gas production in the Netherlands decreases and gas demand will be more and more secured by feeding-in foreign gas (GATE, indirectly via Nord Stream) and local biogas.
The specifications of gas to be fed-in (according to the explanatory notes at the connection with production facilities, an interconnector, a storage facility, an LNG-terminal or at a feed-in connection for biogas) as well as the specifications of gas to be delivered to end-users. GTS may refuse gas not compliant with the set specifications.
In addition, GTS will be responsible for the treatment of gas to comply with the delivery specifications, unless it is not reasonable for GTS to perform such treatment (for example: disproportionate costs). The costs involved for the performances by GTS in relation to the gas quality(treatment) will be socialised. The regional grid manager shall not be responsible for any gas treatment and therefore gas not compliant with the feed-in specifications will be refused by it.
The (expected) changes in gas qualities in the Netherlands made the Ministry of ELI order Arcadis, KEMA and Kiwa to perform a study on the impact of these changes; a copy can be found (in Dutch) on the internet. The conclusion is - in short - that changing (broadening as you may say) the acceptable specifications of gas in the Dutch gas grid causes huge investments to existing gas installations: central-heating boilers, but also the gas turbines for power, heat and steam production) are not fit to handle such gas of different quality, The Minster acknowledges that a transition period shall be required.