EU spot carbon market re-opens, buyers shun it

Fri Feb 4, 2011 9:53am GMT
 

* BlueNext carbon exchange, five registries open

* No exchange trades after more than two hours

By Gerard Wynn

LONDON, Feb 4 (Reuters) - The European Union's spot carbon market re-opened on Friday after a three week closure, but no exchange trades were completed in the early morning as traders feared new revelations of stolen emissions permits.

The theft of permits worth at least 45 million euros had forced the EU executive Commission to close last month the electronic warehouses where permits are kept, called national registries.

An EU official confirmed on Friday that five registries had re-opened, in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Slovakia and the Britain, while a spokesman for the Paris-based BlueNext spot exchange confirmed that it had also opened.

However there were no trades by 0930 GMT on the exchange, underlining trader fears that unidentified stolen permits may still be in circulation. No clear rules on liability meant that buying these risked a loss of full face value.

"You'd have to be a brave man to trade that stuff," said Trevor Sikorski, carbon analyst at Barclays Capital, which earlier this week demanded urgent new rules limiting market access to polluters and regulated financial intermediaries.

"There's a very high probability there are (unidentified) stolen EUAs. You don't know how many there are in circulation. If you were to lose full face value on say 100,000 tonnes it would take a long, long time to get that back in trading revenue."

The BlueNext exchange had not completed any trades more than two hours after opening. All known, stolen EU allowances (EUAs) were accounted for, said BlueNext spokesman Keiron Allen.

"It would be impossible to trade any of the stolen EUAs that have been identified on our exchange," he said, adding the exchange had the serial numbers for all such EUAs orginating from the Czech Republic, Romania, Greece and Italy.

"I think all of us would expect the market to start gingerly," he added. Regarding the possibility of further revelations, he said: "It's just conjecture."

However some market said that the re-opening was premature.

"I don't know who's going to take that risk," Sikorski said. "I'm surprised somewhat that BlueNext has opened. I am not sure that's the best approach."

The spot market accounts for about one tenth of total EU carbon trade which is dominated by a futures market for December delivery so far unscathed by the thefts.

"There are sellers out there but buyers are probably a bit cautious, I think they will shy away for a bit," said one trader. "You need to know that all the bad news is out there."

-- Additional reporting by Pete Harrison in Brussels

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