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Sergei Komlev "Oil Indexation: Best Remedy for Market Failure"
Natural gas plays a critical role in the world energy balance. It is an increasing topic of discussion as part of the dialogue on controlling rising global temperatures, as well as being an element of geopolitics. From an economic point of view, pricing of natural gas and hence its reliability of supply and predictability of price is also an item of intense discussion and debate. Dr. Komlev’s book provides unique insight and analysis of natural gas pricing that should be essential reading for all those who want to understand the fundamentals of nature gas production and impending risks. In this book Dr. Komlev explains how traditional price models that are now being applied to natural gas will lead to market failure and what alternatives there are to traditional price models.
The book describes in detail not only the origin of these market failures, but also the remedy for them. That remedy is oil-indexation of natural gas prices, meaning the application of the value replacement principle based on inter-fuel competition. The use of oil-indexation in the natural gas industry has enabled the gas industry the opportunity to develop and prosper for more than 40 years. The book defends the legacy and future utility of oil-indexation from the current assault by abstract application of allegedly free market principles. Dr. Komlev shows that oil-indexed pricing for natural gas is actually a natural, truly market, and up-to-date instrument for curing market failure.
The book examines the negative consequences of the absurdly low current natural gas prices. Pricing based on gas-on-gas competition generates below-optimal prices due to the market failures characteristic of natural gas as a unique commodity. These market failures cannot be sorted out simply by readjustment of supply and demand in the due course of events. In the case of North America, the required readjustment is in the physical gas supply; while in Europe, the required readjustment is in “paper” gas supplies in the futures market. Inappropriately low gas prices curb options for the globalization of the gas market build around worldwide LNG flows. When gas prices drop below the costs of liquefaction, LNG sales cover only the short-run marginal costs. Although LNG flows may continue this way for a long time to the benefit of end-users, the upset in the balance of interests between buyer and seller is perilous to the gas industry as a whole. Below-optimal prices undermine the ability of the industry to attract external financing and, as a result, puts at risk the next long-term investment cycle. The main conclusion of this book is that the use of gas-on-gas pricing prevents the required market rebalancing in natural gas pricing and is leading to major setbacks in both the forward and current markets.