EC to Regulate Market Abuse in Wholesale Power and Natural Gas Transactions

By on January 11, 2012

by Thomas Morgan

European Union (EU) Regulation 1227/2011 on wholesale energy market integrity and transparency (REMIT), which came into force on December 28, regulates at an EU-level, the wholesale energy markets.  REMIT seeks to detect and prevent market abuse (or more specifically, market manipulation and insider trading) in the wholesale energy sector.  This is in contrast to the existing European market abuse legislation which applied, almost exclusively, to financial instruments admitted to trade on regulated markets.

REMIT applies to wholesale energy products (WEPs):

  • contracts for the supply of electricity or natural gas delivered in the EU;
  • contracts relating to the transport of electricity or natural gas within the EU; and
  • derivatives of those contracts;

irrespective of where or how they are traded, but does not apply if the consumption capacity of the gas or electricity is less than 600 GWh per year.

REMIT prohibits the manipulation of WEP transactions, and requires energy market participants to publish inside information relating to WEPs and submit details of energy transactions to the European energy regulatory authority, the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER).  REMIT also requires ACER, working with National Regulatory Authorities (NRA), to monitor wholesale energy markets and requires energy market participants to register with the NRAs.  Member States, in turn, are charged with ensuring that NRAs have the necessary investigatory powers, which shall be exercised in a proportionate manner.

REMIT extends securities market concepts to the energy sector by prohibiting manipulative transactions and the dissemination of misleading information, and preventing insiders from benefiting from access to information relating to power, natural gas and commodity derivatives markets.  Compliance with REMIT will require market participants to introduce or review information barriers between operational and trading activities and ensure timely public disclosure of relevant information.

Rules are to be promulgated requiring energy traders to report transactions to ACER.  ACER, in turn, will be responsible for monitoring and analysing all trades to verify that the rules are followed, and will instruct NRAs to investigate any incidents of market abuse.

Each NRA must establish a register of market participants.  This,is central to the goal of increased market transparency.  Participants will be required to register with one authority only: in the Member State in which it was established or is resident (if neither applies to the participant, then it must register in a Member State where it is active).  The European Commission will adopt implementing acts defining the scope of trade reporting and registration obligations.  Member States must establish registries of electricity and natural gas traders three months after the adoption of the implementing acts, with transaction reporting requirements coming into force three months later.

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