PRAGUE Feb 4 The Prague-based Power Exchange
Central Europe will launch trade of Czech gas futures contracts
later this year in partnership with Austria's main gas hub,
officials said on Monday.
The exchange and Vienna-based Central European Gas Hub will
offer clients future contracts with physical delivery in the
Czech Republic in a bid to take advantage of growing liquidity
in the central European region.
"The Czech Republic is quite similar to the Austrian market
in terms of infrastructure and storage and we are both transit
countries," Central European Gas Hub chief Gottfried Steiner
told Reuters in a telephone interview.
"Markets east of Baumgarten are opening up and presenting
great opportunities for traders."
The Central European Gas Hub provides the trading platform
for Austria's natural gas hub at Baumgarten, which is the first
entry point for imports to Western Europe from Russia, and
potentially central Asia.
Its shareholders, Austrian energy company OMV and
the Vienna stock exchange, hope the hub can become a key
European gas trading centre, comparable to TTF in the
Netherlands, for Europe's gas trading benchmark.
The Vienna stock exchange is also the majority shareholder
in the Prague-based bourse, which currently offers both
financial and physical power futures as it pushes for a foothold
as the centre of a regional power-trading hub.
"There is more liquidity available, the market is mature
enough for a gas exchange and having an exchange-based market,"
PXE chief David Kucera said the Czech gas market alone
wasn't big enough for gas trading on its exchange so combining
with the Central European Gas Hub to give traders more options
makes sense. It should launch by mid-year, he added.
While the details are not completely worked out, the idea is
to make it seamless for members of the hub and the exchange to
trade so-called Czech CEGH Gas Futures on the Prague exchange,
"Our members who can trade electricity can trade gas
immediately," he said. "We want to offer some sort of cross
membership, but this hasn't been clarified yet."
(Reporting by Michael Kahn; editing by Jason Neely)