* Regulator reviewing the treatment of inside information
* Ofgem concerned over quality of market information
* Industry says REMIT regulation lacks clarity
By Nina Chestney
LONDON, July 15 British energy companies are
under pressure to improve the way they announce outages or
capacity reductions at their plants after regulator Ofgem found
examples that could lead to market distortions.
Under European Union regulation called REMIT, introduced in
2011, energy generators have to publish information related to
any changes in capacity or use of their production, storage or
transmission facilities, such as outages or shutdowns.
Yet three years on, British regulator Ofgem is unhappy with
the progress made by the sector, and it says it has initiated an
At issue is what the industry understands by "inside
information", which REMIT defines as information that when made
public could significantly affect the prices of wholesale energy
"The driver for our review was a concern that inside
information publications by market participants are not as
effective as they could be," Ofgem said in a letter sent to
wholesale energy market participants last week.
"Our review found significant variations in the quality,
consistency and timeliness of inside information publications
that are being put online by market participants," it added.
"We are also actively looking into possible breaches of
REMIT on an ongoing basis," it continued.
Ofgem has found variations in the way changes in capacity
and the start and end-times of such events are reported, as well
as a lack of public records on historic notifications of inside
information, which could call into question the use of social
media as a sole method for publicising such data.
"This is a warning signal to the industry. A number of
players have taken a very narrow view on what is inside
information and if they are wise they will have another look at
their policies," Jonathan Herbst, partner at law firm Norton
Rose Fulbright, told Reuters.
However, the lack of definition around some aspects of REMIT
when it was introduced has allowed generators to make a more
liberal interpretation of its requirements, he added.
LACK OF DEFINITION?
Under REMIT, participants have to disclose inside
information related to businesses or facilities which they own
or control in an "effective and timely manner."
REMIT does not spell out what that timeframe should be and
it is up to participants to take legal advice on defining that.
Many firms, such as EDF Energy, have followed
guidance from the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy
Regulators (ACER), which advises that participants ensure
information is published at the latest within one hour of an
event, such as an outage or change in capacity.
EDF Energy is one of the largest energy firms in Britain,
operating eight nuclear plants, two coal plants and one
gas-fired power station. It publishes data related to these
plants on a website and updates energy market journalists via
"We are aware that REMIT guidance on timing is not specific.
For EDF Energy, as soon as we are aware of a change to published
data we make every effort to inform the market as soon as
possible in the clearest of manners," a company spokeswoman
There is also a lack of detail about what platform or method
should be used for disclosing information.
On Monday, Total E&P UK reported an unplanned
outage at its St Fergus gas terminal in the North Sea on social
media services Twitter and Facebook but not on its company REMIT
website, as it does with its planned outages.
The outage had a market impact, driving UK natural gas
prices up by around 6 percent in morning trade on Monday.
On Total's website, it says: "Information on the unplanned
unavailability of infrastructure operated by Total E&P UK and
Elf Exploration UK Limited can be found on our Twitter and
"We will continue with this procedure until we are advised
otherwise," said Total E&P UK communication adviser Sandra
"Another big issue is what 'public' means for REMIT
purposes. I would be surprised if tweeting was sufficient,"
(Editing by Henning Gloystein and Keiron Henderson)