Prisma receives order for joint European gas procurement

Brussels, Dusseldorf The EU Commission has commissioned the company Prisma to organize joint European gas purchases. The trading platform operator from Leipzig announced this on Monday. Prima boss Götz Lincke: “We are happy and proud that we are able to offer the European Union a convincing solution in such a short time.”

But there are doubts that Prisma is the most suitable company for the project. A competitor has sued the EU Commission. The reason: they did not advertise the contract for the joint gas procurement across Europe, as is usual in such cases, but only sent it to selected companies.

The court of the European Union had therefore initially stopped the award of the contract. With reference to the urgency of the matter, the judges later reversed this measure. The order for Prisma had already been awarded on January 24, said a spokesman for the EU Commission. The next day there was a first meeting at which the next steps were determined.

This brings the EU one step closer to its goal of quickly bundling European gas procurement by the next storage season. But the question remains as to whether the Commission has complied with applicable EU law.

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The Munich-based company Enmacc, which operates an over-the-counter gas trading platform and would have liked to apply for the order, sued. Her managing director Jens Hartmann criticized on Monday: “The European Commission is creating facts here while the court’s judgment is still pending.” Enmacc’s opportunities to participate in the platform have thus become smaller.

Cartel for joint procurement of gas

The aim of the planned trading platform is to prevent the events of last summer from repeating themselves: At that time, the EU countries were under pressure to fill their gas storage facilities as quickly as possible because of the Russian gas supply freeze. They fought over every cubic meter that was offered, driving up prices.

The stock market price for gas has quadrupled within six weeks. In August it was briefly more than 300 euros per megawatt hour.

Although the supply situation has eased in the meantime, the Commission wants to ensure that storage for the coming winter will be possible at reasonable prices even without Russian pipeline gas. That is why the EU is forcing gas buyers to form a cartel. They are to buy part of the gas via a joint electronic platform that bundles the buyers’ needs in large tenders.

The fact that this platform is to be made available solely by Prisma goes against the grain for Enmacc Managing Director Hartmann. He points out that Prisma, according to its own statements, may not be able to complete the first joint gas purchase until the summer. This was originally planned for spring. “Obviously, people no longer trust the original timeline. We could have delivered without any problems on the basis of our existing platform by the end of March,” says Hartmann.


The Enmacc boss also complains that the EU tender was not designed from the start to identify the best candidate for the job. He says: “The tender was not very specific. She doesn’t seem to have had the goal of soliciting as many offers as possible. We can imagine only Prisma offered.”

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Prism disagrees. A spokeswoman told the Handelsblatt on request: “In our opinion – also from experience in comparison to other tenders – the tender was qualitatively detailed and has implemented the requirements of the underlying regulation technically.”

Prisma connects most of the gas markets across Europe with its platform and has more than ten years of experience in auctioning gas transport capacities. “Due to all these points, we were now able to submit a well-founded and future-oriented offer in the demanding time frame,” said the Prisma spokeswoman.

The EU Commission spokesman stated that Prisma is the largest capacity booking platform for gas transport in the EU and an experienced player operating on 20 EU markets with more than 700 shippers and 3400 users. The offer was the most solid, “particularly in terms of planning and methodology, but also because it brought the necessary market knowledge to the project.”

Doubts about the justification for the quick award

Is Prisma really particularly well suited, or did others not have a chance to get a chance? Such orders normally have to be advertised Europe-wide. There are only a few exceptions, such as very urgent orders.

The public procurement law expert Bettina Tugendreich from the Raue law firm told the Handelsblatt a few weeks ago: “Extreme urgency is very often used as an excuse not to have to advertise publicly. But in my experience, that hardly ever withstands legal scrutiny by the courts.”

However, pending the judges’ final decision, the commission will move forward with its plans for Prisma.

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