Who Is Xoserve & What Do They Do?
Xoserve plays a pivotal role in the gas industry providing central services to make the gas market operate.
Who is Xoserve?
Xoserve is a private business who is the Central Data Service Provider for the British gas market. This role involves a range of services that are critical to the gas market through providing services to gas suppliers, shippers, and transporters.
Xoserve was established in May 2005 by the five of the major gas distribution network operators and the National Grid to restructure the gas industry and provide a better and more consistent service to the gas industry.
The British gas market is fragmented with a wide range of gas suppliers, transporters, and shippers who all use the same national transmission system operated by the National Grid, and the local distribution networks which are run by several different companies.
Also, with open competition in the gas market any company can set up business as long as they can get a licence from Ofgem to operate, and customers can choose any of the UK’s gas suppliers to buy their gas from.
This fragmented market needs someone to manage the transactions and delivery of gas, which is the role that Xoserve plays.
Xoserve Contact Details
Domestic customers should call 0870 608 1524 for information about their current gas supplier and MPRN (unique meter reference number).
Commercial customers should call 0845 601 3049 to find out who their current gas supplier is.
Gas leaks should be reported to National Gas Services Emergency line on 0800 111 999.
What Services Does Xoserve Provide?
Xoserve provides a wide range of services for the gas industry but its most pivotal role is the managing the Central Data Service Provider database which includes:
- Recording information on all meters including when they are changed
- Recording changes in gas suppliers when customers switch supply
- Recording of meter readings
- Provides the information to support gas switches
- Provides information on which energy supplier currently supplies a property
The other roles that Xoserve play are:
- Processing around £4 billion of invoices on behalf of the gas industry
- Supporting energy balancing services
- Providing settlement services
- Providing demand estimation services
- Providing advice and support in the industry
- Contributing to industry consultations
- Conducting an annual quantity review process
- Producing industry reports
- Delivering training workshops
- Conducting expert analysis
- Supporting new entrants into the gas market
What is the Central Data Service Provider?
Xoserve is the Central Data Service Provider which includes the Supply Point Administration. They host a database of 23 million properties who are supplied with gas. The information that it holds on these properties is:
- Meter details
- Meter asset information
- Meter reading history
Xoserve also plays a role when customers switch gas suppliers which is in the region of 3 million switches per year and when the gas meter is exchanged which is around 1 million per year.
With the rollout of smart metering happening between now and 2020 there is significant increase expected over the next few years of meter exchanges and increased workload for Xoserve.
The system that hosts this database was replaced in 2017 by a new system in order to improve the switching process and the introduction of smart meters as the previous ageing UK Link system was unable to cope with the industry’s new requirements.
What is the Supply Point Administration?
The Supply Point Administration is the part of the Central Data Service Provider that stores all the 23 million gas supply points in Britain. This database is used to help facilitate the switching process between suppliers for customers.
The Supply Point Administration also provides services directly to the end gas user to help them identify their Meter Point Reference Number (MPRN) or M number and find who their existing gas supplier is if it is unknown, such as when a customer moves property.
What are Balancing and Settlement?
The National Grid as the gas transmission network operator is responsible for balancing the gas network and ensuring continuity of supply. Gas shippers are incentivised to balance their input and output each day.
Gas shippers are the companies that buy gas from the producers, trade the gas, and sell it to the gas suppliers, and they use the national transmission system to distribute the gas from the producer to the end user. Xoserve plays a role in supporting the National Grid in delivering this balancing service.
Settlements are the term used to describe the process of ensuring that each gas shipper and gas supplier pays for and receives the gas that they were contracted to deliver.
The settlement process is conducted by Xoserve through their new IT system which now offers a much more efficient service as well as more accurately apportioning any gas losses. As part of the settlement process, Xoserve processes around £4 billion of invoices each year.
How is Xoserve Governed?
Xoserve provides their services to the gas industry under licence from Ofgem, the gas industry regulator. They are required to deliver services in accordance to the gas industry rules and have price control constraints placed on them by Ofgem to prevent this monopoly from benefiting too much and to ensure that their services are delivered in a cost-effective manner.
In 2015 there was a review of how Xoserve delivered their services, how they are governed and funded with changes being implemented as result of this review including restricting their profits and altering their governance.
Xoserve also has a board for the Central Data Service Provider to ensure that the company delivers services that in the interest of all parties and delivered cost-effectively. This board includes representatives from the gas shippers and transporters.
How is Xoserve Funded?
Xoserve is funded by the gas industry but operated as a not-for-profit to deliver a joined-up service to support the industry. The users of Xoserve services pay for the services provided which they pass on to the end users as part of their energy charges.