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A floating LNG gas terminal in the harbour in Wilhelmshaven, Germany, on Nov. 15, 2022.FABIAN BIMMER/Reuters

European Union energy regulators were unable to launch a planned liquefied natural gas (LNG) price assessment by a Friday deadline because they did not receive enough data from market participants.

The price assessment by the EU Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) is to be the first step in the EU’s plan to launch a new European benchmark piece for LNG, which Europe is switching to, to replace Russian pipeline gas.

Once established, market participants could use the new benchmark as the basis for LNG contracts, which have historically been pegged to the Dutch Title Transfer Facility (TTF) gas hub price that became highly volatile in the last year after Russia slashed pipeline gas deliveries to Europe.

But ACER was not able to publish its first daily LNG price assessment as planned on Friday, because only two of nine transactions reported to the regulator were eligible for inclusion. That was not enough to form a LNG price assessment, ACER said.

An ACER spokesperson told Reuters some of the received bids may have been for cargoes traded on a “free on board” basis, under long-term contracts, or for delivery years or months in future – none of which can count towards the daily spot price assessment.

“If there are no transactions concluded, there is nothing to report ... ACER will monitor the data quality and communicate appropriately in case gaps are identified,” the spokesperson said.

The price assessment aims to form the basis for ACER to then launch a daily European LNG benchmark price by the end of March.

A European Commission spokesperson said the LNG price benchmark would be “built over time” in line with a regulation EU countries agreed in December.

“It will result by April in a new LNG benchmark to enhance the EU gas market’s transparency. We count on ACER to implement it and deliver on the legal requirements of the regulation,” the spokesperson said.

After a year of volatile gas prices driven by Russia slashing gas supplies to Europe, Brussels wants to make LNG pricing more transparent to avoid EU countries bidding against each another for supplies and potentially driving up prices further.

The EU says a new LNG benchmark price is needed since the Dutch TTF price is guided by gas pipeline supply, which Brussels says no longer represents a European market that includes more LNG.