Some Latvian households switch gas supplier after market changes

Since May 1, the natural gas market in Latvia has been open and users have been able to choose their supplier. Market participants estimated that around 5-10% of households had switched suppliers, and more are expected to do so when the next heating season approaches, Latvian Radio reported on May 19.

In the open natural gas market, three companies offer gas supplies to households: Latvijas Gāze, Latvenergo under the name Elektrum, and the Estonian Eesti Gaas subsidiary Elenger, which joined the market in April this year. Currently, the new provider services around 2,000 households, said Dāvis Skulte, Chairman of the Board of Elenger.

"We value it as a better result than we had anticipated. We are a new and unknown player to the general public anyway. The main benefit of an open natural gas market is choice and prices are also already building in line with the market situation. "

Latvijas Gāze, which has held the monopoly in the gas market for many years, has around 360,000 household customers. Elektrum, which has been on the market since 2019, had around 20,000 households among its customers at the end of last year, 30,000 in April, and 40,000 in May, said Uldis Mucinieks, head of Latvenergo sales.

"What we can say at the end of the more active phase of market opening, is that activity was a bit lower than market participants expected. We presume that the trader has been switched by around 5% to 10% of customers. More activity has certainly been in the heating segment because there is a naturally higher interest among customers [..] for heating bills than where natural gas is used only in the kitchen," the Latvenergo representative said.

According to Mucinieks, Latvenergo is gradually planning to reach a 20-30% share in the natural gas market for households.

Companies predict that a bigger wave of interest in natural-gas prices and a potential switch of supplier will be closer to the fall and next heating season.

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