The Belgian market for natural gas is becoming more competitive every year. That is the main conclusion of a study by the federal energy market regulator Creg, based on the 2015 numbers.
The number of companies having a federal or regional license to supply in natural gas and effectively using it, increases every year.
In 2010 there were 13 and last year there were 43. The traditional players are seeing a slow erosion of their market shares.
In 2015, this trend mostly benefited the new players ArcellorMittal Energy and Wintershall. However, Engie and Eni still maintain their very dominant positions.
Eni (33.3%), which acquired the national champion Distrigaz, is the market leader in supplying companies with an annual natural gas consumption of more than 10 GW, beating Engie (22.1%), Statoil (10.3%), Wingas (6.6%), Wintershall (5.8%) and ArcelorMittal Energy (5.6%). These number are based on the supplied gas volumes. In number of customers, Engie has a much stronger base (42.4%), beating Eni (24.9%), Gas Natural Europe (8.8%) and Wingas (6.8%). In this specific listing, Statoil, Wintershall and ArcelorMittal Energy are almost invisible, as they are supplying only a very limited number of very large industrial natural gas consumers.
Since 2015 steel producer ArcellorMittal has been providing its own energy supply by its own daughter company, ArcelorMittal Energy. It follows the existing example of Air Liquide, which has been supplied by its subsidiary Societe Europeenne de Gestion de l'Energie (Sege).
Long-term contracts (70%) set the tone on the Belgian import market. This share doesn’t move much. Prices in long term contracts are increasingly based on gas market prices (76%) instead of – generally more expensive – oil price indexes (5%). This evolution causes a decrease of the price differences between provision on short an on long term. Still 19% of the long term contracts are based on coal price indexes. This segment however only includes one type of consumers: gas fuelled power plants. These are not doing well as renewable energy is given priority grid access, and EDF Luminus is closing down four such plants next year.
During 2015, most Belgian gas demand was met by Norway (39.2%), followed by the Netherlands (36.5%), Qatar (8.8%) and Russia (8.8%). This diversity gives Belgium a relative independence from political and economical evolutions in gas producing countries.