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Do Firms Sell Forward for Strategic Reasons? An Application to the Wholesale Market for Natural Gas

  • Remco van Eijkel
  • José Luis Moraga Gonzalez

Building on a model of the interaction of risk-averse firms that compete in forward and spot markets, we develop an empirical strategy to test whether oligopolistic firms use forward contracts for strategic motives, for risk-hedging, or for both. An increase in the number of players weakens the incentives to sell forward for risk-hedging reasons. However, if strategic motives are also relevant, then an increase in the number of players strengthens the incentives to sell forward. This difference provides the analyst with a way to identify whether strategic considerations are important at motivating firms to sell forward. Using data from the Dutch wholesale market for natural gas where we observe the number of players, spot and forward sales, and churn rates, we find evidence that strategic reasons play an important role at explaining the observed firms’ (inverse) hedge ratios. In addition, the data lend support to the existence of a learning effect by wholesalers.

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Paper provided by CESifo Group Munich in its series CESifo Working Paper Series with number 3270.

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Date of creation: 2010
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_3270
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  1. Von Der Fehr, N.H.M. & Harbord, D., 1992. "Long-Tern Contracts and Imperfectly Competitive Spot Markets : A Study of U.K. Electricity Industry," Memorandum 14/1992, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  2. von der Fehr, Nils-Henrik M. & Hansen, Petter Vegard, 2008. "Electricity Retailing in Norway," Memorandum 02/2009, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
  3. van Damme, Eric & Hurkens, Sjaak, 1997. "Games with Imperfectly Observable Commitment," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 21(1-2), pages 282-308, October.
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