Long-term customer relations
The framework conditions in the gas market are also changing. The majority of European gas imports were previously based on long-term contracts where the purchase price was geared to the price of oil. Over recent years, the availability of gas traded freely in Europe has undergone a sharp increase, particularly due to the increased extraction of shale gas in the USA. As a result of this, gas prices in the key European trading exchanges fell below the price level of oil-indexed sales contracts. This led to competition becoming more intense. Energy utilities with no long-term gas purchase contracts are now able to procure gas on the spot market and sell this at more favourable conditions than utilities with oil-indexed purchase contracts. We have also observed consequences in the Central European markets. We recorded a decline in our market share on the Czech market from 72 % in 2008 to 44 % in 2012. This is the result of a strong competitive environment with annual growth rates of some 10 %.