·The National Energy Administration promotes substantive supervision of oil and gas pipe network monopoly will break ice

The National Energy Administration is promoting substantial regulation of the oil and gas pipeline network.

The National Energy Administration recently solicited opinions on the "Regulations on Fair and Open Supervision of Oil and Gas Pipeline Facilities (Draft for Comment)" (hereinafter referred to as "Regulatory Measures"). According to the "Regulatory Measures," oil and gas pipelines will be open to third-party market players in the future, and the Energy Bureau will strengthen supervision over pipelines. If the preliminary procedures of the "Regulatory Measures" are successful, they will be implemented next year.

Once entering the implementation phase, it means that the current oil and gas pipeline network will gradually be released to third parties. The pipeline network operated by PetroChina, Sinopec and CNOOC will also be interconnected. The monopoly of the pipeline network will be broken and the oil and gas market will be more open.

"瘸腿" pipe access

The "Regulatory Measures" proposes that oil and gas pipeline network facilities operating enterprises should provide relevant transportation and storage services on an equal basis with third-party market entities when they have residual capacity in oil and gas pipeline network facilities.

The upstream and downstream users should make an open application to the oil and gas pipeline network operation enterprise in combination with the actual production situation or the market demand and consumption forecast, as well as the current situation of the planning, construction and use of oil and gas pipeline network facilities. After submitting the application and related materials, the pipe network operation enterprise shall give a reply within 30 working days, and disagree with the access to explain the reasons.

At the same time, it is encouraged to directly sell oil and gas to downstream users by upstream users belonging to different market entities by means of self-negotiation or entrusted agency, and the upstream and downstream users and the oil and gas pipeline network facilities operating enterprises sign a three-party contract or agreement. According to the existing transport (storage) contract users; priority categories and encouraged users as stipulated by the national policy; apply for and sign the transfer (storage) contract in the order of new users to openly use the oil and gas pipeline network facilities.

However, in fact, these provisions of the "Regulatory Measures" are differentiated access, not internationally popular non-discriminatory third-party access, companies with existing pipe networks still prefer to use pipe network to transport oil and gas.

At present, China's oil and gas industry, China Petroleum, Sinopec and CNOOC owns the pipeline network, and PetroChina's natural gas pipeline network accounts for more than 70% of the natural gas pipeline network. The mode of operation of the domestic oil company's pipe network is “bundled”, that is, the integrated operation of the upper, middle and lower reaches. PetroChina even set up a city gas company, from exploration and mining directly to users in the system.

An industry insider who asked not to be named told the "First Financial Daily" reporter that there was no regulation in the past, even if the three giants were constantly rushing during the peak period of oil and gas consumption, they did not buy each other and there was a regulatory approach. Some improvement, but from the information disclosed so far, it is more difficult to implement differentiated access.

He also analyzed that, especially now, natural gas prices do not fully reflect demand. Both upstream and downstream enterprises belong to one company. Internal matters are not easy to supervise. It is not easy to define whether the transportation capacity is surplus or not.

Regulatory implementation is difficult

The "Regulatory Measures" was led by the Market Supervision Department established after the reorganization of the Energy Bureau. The staff of the Market Supervision Department mainly came from the former State Electricity Regulatory Commission, and there was not much experience in oil and gas.

It is a problem how the various agencies of the power system have the ability to supervise the oil and gas pipeline network. It has been suggested that the Energy Bureau can enrich oil and gas professionals to the dispatching agencies to solve this problem, but the current institutional development in this area is not clear.

The "Regulatory Measures" also does not explain the penalties that the Market Supervision Department and the National Energy Administration may enjoy. It is not clear at all how the supervision can be implemented.

The “Regulatory Measures” proposes that the work related to the open supervision of oil and gas pipeline network facilities includes: establishing a sound and open supervision mechanism for oil and gas pipeline network facilities, coordinating issues related to fair and open oil and gas pipeline network facilities, and strengthening oil and gas pipeline network facilities projects and oil and gas production and utilization projects. The convergence of the oil and gas pipeline network facilities across the region, the organization and guidance of the various agencies to carry out the relevant supervision of oil and gas pipeline network facilities.

The supervision content includes matters such as third-party access, transportation (storage) capability verification, access application and acceptance, contract signing and execution, information disclosure and submission, and other matters related to fair and open oil and gas pipeline facilities.

Under the premise that domestic natural gas prices are not rationalized and seasonal differential gas prices are lacking, the responsibility for gas storage is the responsibility of oil companies, and the gas storage capacity is seriously insufficient, far below the international level of 13%. The construction of gas storage has become a political task and lacks economics.

Associate Professor Chen Shouhai of China University of Petroleum suggested that the top-level design could be strengthened to enrich the power of the supervisory personnel. At the same time, the pipe network neutrality could be realized, and the oil and gas transportation and sales links would be strictly separated to avoid related transactions within the company.

However, as mentioned above, domestic oil and gas companies are currently implementing a “bundling” model. Both upstream and downstream are internal affairs of the company. The access will be greatly discounted, and it will bring many difficulties to the supervision. The effect is not optimistic.

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