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Spanish stock exchange to start offering gas contracts May 24

The Spanish stock exchange operator Bolsas y Mercados Espanoles said it willstart to offer a full range of natural gas contracts from May 24 followingstrong demand from market participants.

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The operation will be conducted through BME Clearing, the central counterpartywhich it operates and that the contracts to be listed are day-ahead as well asa range of natural gas futures with weekly, monthly, quarterly, seasonal andannual maturities, BME said Wednesday.

These contracts will be incorporated into CCP's energy segment, and thereforecurrent participants in that segment will be able to register for theseproducts, BME said.

All contracts will be physically settled at the Spanish Punto Virtual deBalance (PVB).

BME Clearing will offer management services, manage the risk and the marginsas well as register the positions, it said.

It will also notify to the Spanish transmission system operator, Enagas, whiletaking care of settlements and the corresponding invoices.

"This initiative is much demanded by current participants and otherinstitutions interested in a CCP for natural gas products that allows them tomanage counterparty risk and to negotiate with firms with which they do nothave credit agreements," BME said.

The energy segment started its activities in March 2011, clearing powerderivatives. Currently, it has 150 participants.

New contracts initially offered on the exchange will cover the following threeworking days -- balance of month, front month, front quarter, front season andfront year, as well as balance of week and full week -- if requested, the BMEsaid.

The availability of gas contracts on the exchange could facilitate increasedliquidity in the PVB as new participants with different trading interests canutilize the exchange for hedging, speculation or arbitrage opportunities, BMEadded.

--Henry Edwardes-Evans,

--Edited by Norazlina Jumaat,