European Business: What is HANDEN’s mission in the deregulated gas market?
Falko Thormeier: Our mission is to provide reliable and competitive supplies of natural gas in order to enhance the energy security of our customers and allow them to maximize their business potential. We seek to achieve this by providing the best possible price and customer service that we can.
European Business: Poland joined the EU in 2004. How has it implemented the EU directives deregulating the gas market ?
Falko Thormeier: HANDEN was founded in September 2005 under the name G.EN. Trading Sp. z o.o. to create and run trade in natural gas in Poland and abroad in accordance with Polish and European regulations. Liberalization following Polish accession to the EU was just beginning to take effect. G.EN. Trading was founded to be a successor to the state monopoly, serving domestic consumers, small businesses and medium-sized industrial clients with a more competitive gas supply. In 2007 we became the first independent supplier to import gas from foreign countries. Since then we have traded under the name HANDEN. Liberalization has separated the activities of network operation from gas supply, allowing third parties to sell gas under the TPA (Third Party Access) rule. This rule means that institutional clients now have the right to choose their gas supplier, and the participants in the supply part of the market may compete freely.
European Business: Has liberalization had the desired effect of increasing competition for the benefit of customers?
Falko Thormeier: We are well on the way. Since the market has been opened up, competition has become much more intense. Liberalization is on its way to achieving greater transparency in the market, but there is still a way to go. There is still full regulation of the sales price except for the purpose of resale. We are against price regulation and in favour of a liquid and competitive market in which transparency and simplicity are maximized. This benefits us and our customers. We play an active role in the liberalization process and take part in various ministerial consultations at government level. As the largest alternative gas supplier for commercial and industrial consumers with a 1.1% share of the Polish market, we have a strong voice in this dialogue.
European Business: How much gas does HANDEN supply, and from where is it sourced?
Falko Thormeier: We supply around 2 TWh per year. In 2013 we concluded our first bilateral deal at the Polish Virtual Trading Point, and we have traded on the Polish Power Exchange (PolPX) since October 2015. This is now where we buy the majority of the gas we supply to our customers and where we can achieve the best deals on their behalf. Gas supplies are secure thanks to cast-iron deals with the Russian gas supplier Gazprom. Any slack can be picked up by producers in the West or the Czech Republic. We conclude delivery contracts lasting at least a year, but within these contracts we can guarantee flexible supplies depending on customer needs. Our price models take into account load profile and contractual capacity to give our customers the best possible deal in the Polish gas market. We are very reliable, and unlike some of the companies now trying to carve a slice of this new market, we will still be here tomorrow, serving our customers.
European Business: Who are your customers?
Falko Thormeier: We focus on industrial and commercial clients from a variety of sectors. From food manufacturers to glass producers and from the tile-making industry to building materials, we have an extremely broad customer portfolio. A lot of them want to improve their environmental record in a market where coal-based energy still dominates. Gas is a far more ecological alternative with a lower carbon footprint.
European Business: How do you see the gas market developing in the future?
Falko Thormeier: As EU environmental targets become more ambitious, the role gas plays in the energy mix will continue to grow. Our goal for the future is to increase our market share to 5% by 2020. To achieve this we will be expanding our sales team and focusing on customer service.