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Who Does What? - The Key Players in the Liberalised Natural Gas Market

Who Does What? - The Key Players in the Liberalised Natural Gas Market

Background

From gas being discovered in the ground beneath the sea, to its use in domestic premises, natural gas has many owners and many organisations are involved. The key generic players are listed throughout the next tier of information.

Exploration and Production

In the first instance, Exploration Companies look for gas in the North Sea, the Irish Sea etc., and when they find it, Producers pump it along undersea pipelines to various reception points around the UK (called beach terminals).

Delivery Facility Operators

Delivery Facility Operators receive the gas and operate the processing facilities and ensure that it is within the specification for transportation. Since 1998, the Inter-connector pipeline has linked the UK transmission system to continental Europe allowing gas to be exported from the UK and/or imported from Europe. There are also pipeline links with Northern Ireland, Eire and The Isle of Man.

Gas Transporters (GTs)

GTs operate the networks that transport gas to over 20 million consumers across the UK in accordance with a "network code", (see "Natural Gas System"). They are licensed to operate by OFGEM. Their responsibility ends at the consumer's ECV, and IGEM/G/1 gives further details.

The GT charges Gas Shippers for the transportation of gas at a rate dependant upon several factors including where the gas enters and leaves the network and what pressures are involved along the way.

National Grid is the largest GT and also owns the NTS. The NTS contains abuot 6,900 km of pipes to transport gas from terminals to the distribution networks.

An increasing number of GTs are building their own localised gas distribution networks. GTs are represented by AIGT.

Gas Storage Operators

Storage operators operate facilities which are attached to a network that are able to store gas during times of low usage and release it for periods of high demand. Storage facilities include LNG and pressurised gas systems.

Gas Shippers

Shippers buy gas from producers; employ GTs to transport it, (and, where necessary, storage operators to provide gas during peak times), before selling it to consumers. They manage the balance between supply and demand. OFGEM issues licences to Suppliers to enable them to make arrangements with GTs.

Contracts are arranged taking into account the "Spot Gas Market" that reflects the supply and demand scenarios on the existing and predicted loads between the parties involved. Information is published daily about gas prices with predictions for days, months and even quarterly figures for up to three years ahead.

Utility Infrastructure Providers (UIP)s

UIPs will design and install the gas mains and services on behalf of a developer and transfer ownership of the pipes to a GT. Many UIPs are contracted directly by a GT. They may also combine this activity with infrastructure provision of other services, e.g. water.

Gas Suppliers

Suppliers are those companies that take gas from Shippers and arrange for gas to be supplied to consumer's meters and bill the consumers. OFGEM license and maintain a list of licensed suppliers.

Gas Conveyers

Conveyors are a special type of transporter, who may also be a local authority, and who supply gas to several individual tenants on a site or in a building. The conveyor is responsible for the gas plant from a primary ECV/meter to each individual AECV and for supplying the gas through that pipe.

The Major Energy Users Council (MEUC)

MEUC is an independent users group, run by members for members, working together to achieve lower prices and better terms on gas, electricity, water and effluent, telecoms and data management.

Service Providers

Service providers are Gas Safe Register registered businesses that provide equipment installation and servicing within the constraints imposed by legislation especially GSIUR.

Emergency Service Providers (ESPs)

An ESP's prime duty is to make pipeline systems and gas installations safe. They attend reported escapes of gas or "fumes" and ensure that the installation is left safe although not necessarily repaired. Consumers may be required to seek remedial work from a service provider who has skills appropriate to the installation involved. 

Emergency Service Provision is regulated by GSMR. There are strict standards of response to such reports to ensure a high level of public safety.

Meter Operators

Until recently, GTs owned the entire gas-metering asset and were responsible for meter design, construction, installation and maintenance, but legislation has been introduced to increase competition and enable independent MAMs to own, install and maintain meters on behalf of the consumer or supplier. Meter readings are taken by separate companies on behalf of gas suppliers, and sometimes in conjunction with electricity suppliers. More information on this rapidly progressing competitive market can be found on the OFGEM website.

 

 

 

 

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