Leading gas distribution companies meet European Commissioner Cañete

Madrid, 15 May 2017 – A meeting gathering Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete and five top managers of some of Europe’s leading gas distribution companies, including Paolo Gallo, Italgas CEO, took place today in Madrid. During the meeting were addressed the topics of decarbonisation, developing biomethane and new ways of using natural gas, innovative data management, data protection and cybersecurity. These themes will be fully analysed at European level through the revision of Gas Market Design, as in the case of the electricity sector.

The five executives have set up in 2016 “Gas Distributors 4 Sustainability”, a coalition between some of Europe’s main gas distributors: Italgas, Italy (Paolo Gallo); GRDF, France (Edouard Sauvage); Distrigaz Sud Retele, Romania (Vonjy Andriamanga); Galp Gás Natural Distribuição, Portugal (Gabriel Sousa); Gas Natural, Spain (Antoni Peris).

The European distributors’ group voiced its satisfaction for the objectives and the scope of the measures published by the European Commission under the name of “Clean Energy for All Europeans” or “Winter Package”. However, according to the European gas distributors, in addition to having a cost-effective approach, the new regulations will have to pay close attention to respecting the principle of technological neutrality, and therefore avoid presenting decarbonisation as the only means towards electrification.

During the meeting with the European Commission, GD4S representatives highlighted the growing role of natural gas and its contribution to achieving the environmental targets set by COP21 in Paris in order to address the challenge of climate change and air quality in our cities and to reach the goal of a low-emission society.

Representatives from gas distributors stressed, among other things, that in terms of local pollution, the use of natural gas instead of traditional fuels such as coal, diesel or biomass dramatically reduces emissions of NOx and Sox and completely eliminates solid particle emissions. In terms of global warming, natural gas already generates a significant reduction in CO2 emissions compared to coal and oil, biomethane – which makes natural gas renewable – and is capable of achieving CO2 neutrality, or even a negative balance.

Representatives from «Gas Distributors 4 Sustainability» highlighted to the Commissioner Cañete the opportunity to support the development of renewable gas in the same way as other renewable energies were supported in their maturation stage. Renewable gas is an extremely beneficial solution from an environmental standpoint. It is carbon neutral and readily available through the gas infrastructural system for transport, storage and distribution present throughout the European Union’s territory.

While discussing the possible evolutions of the European energy market, Paolo Gallo pointed out that “we must recognize that we currently have different applications of the same European rules, for example in the case of white certificates: in Italy our system is a far cry from an efficient redistribution of the burden of energy saving targets. As of now, it falls solely on electricity and gas distribution companies. The different application of the same European regulations at the national level brings different results and higher costs for the end-users in some countries, which means ultimately moving further away from creating a truly unique and homogeneous European gas market. It is something to think about carefully in order to find the right countermeasures.

GD4S is an coalition created in 2016; to date, it represents the most important players in gas distribution in Europe who together serve a total of around 25 million customers and represent approximately 20% of European natural gas consumers. One of its objectives is to share best practice approaches and experiences in each of their respective markets, with the aim of improving the quality of services provided to consumers. The founding companies are considering to transform it in a formal association in the coming weeks.

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Italgas
Italgas is the leading natural gas distribution operator in Italy and the third in Europe. With 3,700 employees, it manages, directly or through its affiliates, a distribution network that covers approximately 65,000 km. Last year Italgas distributed round 8 billion cubic metres of gas to 7.4 million customers. Since November 2016, the Company is listed in the FTSE MIB index of the Italian stock exchange.

GRDF
Gaz Réseau Distribution France (GRDF) is a gas distribution company, independant subsidiary of ENGIE. GRDF performs daily its public service missions by managing the downstream gas network, connecting and delivering gas to around 11 million customers (end-users) in France. GRDF designs, builds, operates and maintains this grid in more than 9,500 cities while guaranteeing safety of people and property, as well as quality of delivery.

Distrigaz Sud Retele
Distrigaz Sud Retele is a gas distribution company operating in the South of Romania. It manages a distribution network that covers 19,000 km connecting and delivering gas to 1,6 million end users.

Galp Gás Natural Distribuição
Galp Gás Natural Distribuição manages a distribution network of about 12,000 km and serves over 1 million users. In 2016 it distributed 1.4 billion cubic meters of gas

Gas Natural Distribuciòn
Gas Natural Distribuciòn is is a total of 11 distribution companies with operations in all the autonomous regions of Spain. They are responsible for the development, operation and maintenance of a gas distribution network in Spain of more than 53.000 km. There are over 5.3 million consumers in more than 1,000 towns and cities connected to this network.