Press release

CMA to vary Rough undertakings

The CMA has decided that undertakings relating to the Rough gas storage facility should be varied.

This follows the provisional decision to vary them, which was published in March.

Rough is a gas field in the North Sea used to store gas in the summer and deliver it in winter when the gas is needed to help meet high demand. It is an important part of the UK’s gas storage infrastructure and capacity.

The existing undertakings include an obligation for Centrica Storage Limited (CSL), the operator of Rough, to offer for sale a specific amount of capacity before the start of each storage year and limit the amount which can be supplied to its parent company Centrica.

In its final decision published today the group of independent CMA panel members carrying out the review have found that that as Rough ages its performance may become increasingly unpredictable, so that CSL cannot meet its capacity obligations.

The group has decided to vary the undertakings to introduce an adjustment mechanism which would allow Ofgem, as energy regulator, to vary the capacity obligations – if CSL is able to demonstrate that there is an issue which will have a substantial impact on Rough’s capacity.

The CMA will now move to accept the varied undertakings from Centrica and CSL.

Further details, including the CMA’s final decision, can be found on the case page.

Notes for editors

  1. The CMA is the UK’s primary competition and consumer authority. It is an independent non-ministerial government department with responsibility for carrying out investigations into mergers, markets and the regulated industries and enforcing competition and consumer law.
  2. The Rough undertakings were first given by Centrica Storage Ltd and Centrica plc following Centrica plc’s acquisition in 2002 of the Rough gas storage facility and have been subsequently amended following Competition Commission reviews in 2006 and 2011.
  3. The Rough undertakings were accepted by the Secretary of State under section 88 of the Fair Trading Act 1973. By virtue of paragraph 16 of Schedule 24 to the Enterprise Act 2002, and The Enterprise Act 2002 (Enforcement Undertakings and Orders) Order 2004 (SI 2004/2181), the CMA has the ability to supersede, vary or release certain undertakings accepted under the Fair Trading Act 1973; this includes the Rough undertakings. This power is exercisable in the same circumstances, and on the same terms and conditions as applied to the Secretary of State under the Fair Trading Act 1973; namely that by reason of any change of circumstances the undertakings are no longer appropriate and need to be varied, superseded or released.
  4. The group of CMA panel members acting as decision-makers in the review are Martin Cave (Chair), Marisa Cassoni, Roger Finbow and Jon Stern.
  5. Enquiries should be directed to Rory Taylor (rory.taylor@cma.gsi.gov.uk, 020 3738 6798).
  6. For information on the CMA see our homepage, or follow us on Twitter @CMAgovuk, Flickr and LinkedIn.