Organizations involved in the French gas market

The parts played by the industry’s various institutions have been re-written and new institutions have been set up, not least to see that competition functions properly.

Gas producers and gas suppliers

Production and supply are the two activities within the gas supply chain which have been opened up to competition since the energy markets began to be liberalized in 2000.

Natural gas producers
Producers are those companies which explore for natural gas (prospecting for gas deposits) and are then engaged in extracting the gas and transporting it as far as the French border. They sell it to suppliers “in bulk”. Europe’s biggest producers are Gazprom, Total, E.ON Ruhrgaz and Eni.

Natural gas suppliers
These are the companies you deal with as soon as you enter into a contract for the supply of natural gas. Their business consists of three stages:

  • Buying from the producer the quantity of gas that matches the total consumption of all the supplier’s customers.
  • Paying a “fee” to the pipeline and grid operators for the use of their transport and distribution infrastructure.
  • Billing customers for their consumption of natural gas. Eni is a natural gas supplier, as well as an electricity supplier.


Grid operators

Transporting the gas to the consumer’s premises continues to be a public service, and is not open to competition. It is done by grid operators which are bound to ensure that suppliers can actually access the grids without discrimination.

GRD: Distribution Grid Operators
For 95% of French territory this means GrDF (Gaz Réseau Distribution France) a wholly-owned subsidiary of Engie (former GDF-Suez). Since 1 July 2004 when the natural gas market for companies, small businesses and local authorities was liberalized, the historic distributor, GDF-Suez (now Engie) has kept the running of the distribution grid separate from its other activities.
For the remaining 5% it means the Local Gas Distributor (ELD), of which there are about twenty. These are generally ex municipality companies (in Bordeaux, Strasbourg or Grenoble, for example), or private companies (about ten) approved by the public authorities. Each company performs all distribution tasks over a specified geographical area, its official territory.

The GRDs’ duties
To design, build, operate, maintain and develop the gas distribution grid, and to ensure that it is safe, secure and dependable;

To distribute natural gas over local or regional pipeline grids on behalf of those who want it (gas suppliers, customers);

To be responsible for the operation of the grids and promote access to natural gas by connecting customers’ new appliances to the distribution grids;

To offer services associated with the delivery of natural gas (hire of connection points, routine maintenance of meters, calibration, non-standard pressure, repurchase of units, etc.);

To commission local community organizations/authorities as subcontractors as appropriate in order to provide the public service of natural gas distribution in France.


GRT: the Transport Network Operator
Since January 2005, in accordance with the second European Directive on the Market in Gas, the transport business of Engie (former GDF-Suez) has been carried on by its subsidiary GRTgaz, a limited-liability company which independently operates and markets gas transport services over 31,589 km of pipelines.
GRTgaz is the gas pipeline operator responsible for the greatest total length of gas pipes in Europe. Its pipelines are connected to those of other European transporters.
In the south west of France these tasks are performed, under the same rules, by Transport Infrastructures Gaz France (TIGF), which manages almost 5000km of pipes.

To transport natural gas over major pipeline networks on behalf of those who want it (gas suppliers, customers);

To watch over such pipes and guarantee their good condition;

To be responsible for the design, construction, operation, maintenance and development of these pipes for the transport of natural gas as far as the distribution grids.

En ergy Regulator

The Energy Regulator (Commission de Régulation de l’Energie, CRE) is an independent authority charged with regulating the electricity and natural gas markets which are open to competition: it was set up in 2000, and is composed of nine commissioners, each appointed for six years. One of their numbers is appointed by order of the President of the Republic to chair the CRE.

Duties: access to distribution grids and transport networks
Upholding the right to access the public electricity grid and networks of natural gas installations.

Ensuring that the electricity and natural gas grids and other infrastructure, as well as Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) installations, function properly and seeing to their development.
Guaranteeing the independence of electricity and natural gas grid operators.

The fees charged for transporting and distributing natural gas are fixed by order on the CRE’s recommendation. They apply to GDF Suez under the same terms as to other natural gas suppliers.

Duties: market regulation
The CRE issues binding opinions on changes in the regulated tariffs for the sale of gas and electricity
It gives opinions on social tariffs (the “basic needs” tariff for electricity and the “social solidarity” tariff for gas)
It watches over the bulk electricity and natural gas markets, as well as cross-border trading in these two energy sources.

The Sanctions and Dispute Resolution Committee of the CRE
The CRE’s Sanctions and Dispute Resolution Committee (CoRDiS) was set up by the Energy Act of 7 December 2006 to exercise the CRE’s powers to apply sanctions and resolve disputes concerning access to and use of the public electricity and natural gas grids.


The National Energy Ombudsman

The Energy Ombudsman (médiateur de l’énergie) is an independent authority set up under the Energy Act as part of market liberalization. Any individual or small businesses consuming less than 30,000 kWh may call in the Ombudsman in the event of a dispute with an energy supplier.

Providing energy consumers with information on their rights so as to assist them in matters concerning their energy supplies.
Issuing written recommendations, with supporting analysis, for resolution of disputes between consumer and supplier.

Calling in the Ombudsman
Complaints must in the first place be addressed in writing to the energy supplier, who has two months in which to offer a solution.

If no satisfactory response has been received within the two months then the matter may be brought to the attention of the Ombudsman.

This must be done in writing, enclosing all the details needed for examining the case.


The French Gas Association

This is the trade association of the gas industry in France; it has been engaged in promoting the industry since it was founded in 1874.

The association pursues all means of encouraging the development of the gas industry in France, including the following sectors: gas supply, storage, transport, distribution, construction and operation of gas pipe networks and other installations, and the manufacture of gas appliances and equipment.

It represents its members in dealings with the government on technical, safety, security and environmental issues concerning gas.

It studies questions of all sorts affecting the gas industry: technical, economic, legal and regulatory. It fosters research into the gas market, and publicizes studies of importance to the industry both in France and abroad.

It provides services useful to and expected by the gas industry in France, such as training and the adoption of standards.

It contributes to the work of French, European and international bodies engaged in devising regulations, setting standards and issuing certificates in relation to the gas industry.



Electricity and natural gas for households


Contact an energy adviser

  • Tel. 3294
  • From Monday to Friday 9am - 7pm
    Cost of a national call from fixed or mobile phones

Last updated on 09/09/21