October 1, 2015 / 3:06 PM / 3 years ago

Belgium, Luxembourg announce first link of gas markets

BRUSSELS, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Fluxys Belgium and Creos Luxembourg have merged the gas markets in the two countries in the first integration of its kind, saying on Thursday it could pave the way for wider links to underpin a single European energy market.

Electricity markets have been coupled across many EU nations, allowing traders to buy and sell available power capacity across borders.

But gas connections have been more complex because the gas market has historically been dominated by long-term supply contracts.

The Belgium-Luxembourg integration from Thursday, which creates a combined market of 20 billion cubic metres (bcm) with some 70 suppliers, follows two years of talks between the Belgian and Luxembourgeois regulators.

In a statement, the companies said it would boost liquidity at the Zeebrugge Trading Point (ZTP) in Belgium.

Pascal De Buck, CEO of gas infrastructure operator Fluxys Belgium, said the two years of talks to align the regulatory regimes had provided knowledge that could allow “wider integration with other neighbouring markets”.

The European Commission has been pushing hard for a single energy market across the European Union, arguing it would improve security of supply and could reduce prices. (Reporting by Barbara Lewis; additional reporting by Vera Eckert in Frankfurt; editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Susan Thomas)

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