The Natural Gas Regulatory Authority has postponed the issuance of natural gas import licenses to private sector companies, saying the private sector is “unprepared,”according to an EGAS source. EGAS has renewed preliminary approval to grant Qalaa Holdings’ TAQA Arabia, BB Energy and Fleet Energy the import licenses, effectively giving them additional time after all three allegedly failed to submit paperwork to obtain the final license, according to the source. The preliminary approvals, which are renewed every six months unless a permanent license is obtained, must be ratified by the authority.
Take this with a grain of salt: When all three companies fail to file paperwork on time, that’s not the private sector being “unprepared,” it’s the business sending a message to government about license terms — and the regulator putting on some pressure in public. We suspect we’re not the only ones who hear echoes here of round one in the solar energy feed-in-tariff imbroglio.
Background: The authority was given the green light in July to begin issuing and revoking licenses for private players in the natural gas industry, a move that was made possible by the deregulation of the sector through the Natural Gas Act. Sources had said at the time that the first import license would likely be issued before the end of 2018.