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Balkan Gas Hub exchange eyes start-2020 launch after Trayport deal

London — The launch of a new Bulgaria-based gas trading exchange -- dubbed the Balkan Gas Hub -- is planned for the start of 2020 after a deal announced Monday with European platform operator Trayport.

Balkan Gas Hub EAD -- which was created in January this year by Bulgaria's state-owned Bulgartransgaz -- agreed with Trayport the implementation of Trayport's Exchange Trading System (ETS) for Balkan Gas Hub trading.

"Balkan Gas Hub will be consulting with market participants and the Bulgarian [regulator] as we work towards a go-live date at the start of 2020," it said in a statement.

Bulgaria and the European Commission have been pushing for a southeast European physical gas hub to be created in Bulgaria for several years, something that is also part of the Bulgarian government's approved 2020 energy strategy.

"The launch of the new gas market is an important milestone in the development of energy trading in Bulgaria," said Kiril Ravnachki, Executive Director, Balkan Gas Hub.

"The new platform aims to bring together many participants in gas trading, including those from the wider region, and we expect this initiative will deliver the long-term benefits already experienced in other markets," Ravnachki said.

Bulgaria is keen to become a regional gas center in Southeast Europe -- bringing in gas from several sources, including Russia (via TurkStream), Azerbaijan (via the Southern Gas Corridor), fields in the Black Sea, Iran and LNG via Greek LNG terminals.

It would then act as a regional distributor to the wider Balkan area.

Bulgaria has said the gas hub would provide the physical possibility for competition among various gas suppliers, which in turn would lead to cheaper prices.

Trayport system

Balkan Gas Hub will initially introduce over-the-counter (OTC) and exchange contracts that best fit the needs of Bulgarian market participants, including short-term standardized products, it said.

A template Master Agreement for gas delivery to serve the needs of the Bulgarian market will be also available as an option for any OTC trading market participants, it said.

Contracts planned for launch include:

  • Gas release program
  • Short-term segment (cleared)
  • Short-term segment (non-cleared/with credit matrix)
  • Long-term futures segment (cleared)
  • Long-term futures segment (non-cleared/with credit matrix)

"We are pleased that Balkan Gas Hub has chosen Trayport for the launch of the first Bulgaria-based liquid physical and gas trading hub," Trayport chief operating officer Richard Everett said.

"We are committed to supporting the growth of energy trading markets globally, and Balkan Gas Hub will now join the growing list of over 40+ brokers and exchanges that our network supports," Everett said.

Trayport's ETS is used to organize both physical and financial markets.

Southeast Europe remains poorly interconnected, with a number of countries in the region dependent on gas imports from Russia, but new infrastructure projects such as the Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria will provide new supply alternatives.

In late December, the Austria-based gas trading exchange, the Central European Gas Hub (CEGH), reached a provisional agreement with Bulgartransgaz to help develop a Balkan gas hub in Bulgaria.

It is unclear whether CEGH -- which could not be reached Monday for immediate comment -- will play any part in the hub in the future.

--Stuart Elliott, stuart.elliott@spglobal.com

--Edited by Jonathan Loades-Carter, jonathan.carter@spglobal.com