Traders Sold German Gas That Never Showed Up



(Bloomberg) -- Several natural gas traders last year sold the fuel into Germany’s pipeline network, but now an investigation is under way because the commodity wasn’t actually delivered.

“It’s potentially fraud,” said Ina Domin, a spokeswoman for NetConnect Germany GmbH, declining to name companies nor specify volumes. The company is investigating and a legal case is underway. She also declined to provide further details while these continue.

The accounts of the traders in question have been closed. Grid managers notified the Federal Network Agency, and they’re seeking changes to the system’s rules. The neighboring Dutch grid also revealed this week it had incurred a 16 million-euro ($18 million) hit after potentially fraudulent activity in December, the first of its kind since that country’s gas balancing regime was established in 2011.

The Dutch market is the biggest in Europe by traded volume and prices in the two systems track each other. Dutch prices are also becoming an important benchmark for globally traded liquefied natural gas.

Germany’s network managers currently assume that the traders in question “caused their imbalances purposefully,” NetConnect said in a statement. “Therefore, the market area managers must assume that the invoices will not be settled.”

In the Netherlands, Gasunie Transport Services has taken unspecified measures to detect and act more quickly on any fraud, while trying to make sure honest traders are not inconvenienced too much, said Michiel Bal, a spokesman.

Gasunie is working with the German networks on the issue, he said by phone. “We are in contact with each other to share information.”

It’s unclear whether the potential fraud in the neighboring markets is linked.

With assistance from Rob Verdonck. To contact the reporters on this story: Mathew Carr in London at m.carr@bloomberg.net; Karin Matussek in Berlin at kmatussek@bloomberg.net. To contact the editors responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net Lars Paulsson, Andrew Reierson.



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