Gas hub operating at full speedGroningen, The Netherlands | press release
Thanks to the low temperatures in the Netherlands and the rest of Europe, the Gasunie installations and network are operating at full capacity. The energy conflict between Russia and the Ukraine is also playing a role in this. The demand for transport capacity as a result of a growing need for gas has increased dramatically. Gasunie’s extensive network of over 15,000 kilometres of pipes and 15 large compressor stations in the Netherlands and Germany is transporting natural gas to customers in the Netherlands and via so-called export stations to Germany, Britain, Belgium, France, Italy and Switzerland. Since last year, Gasunie also owns part of the transport network in Northern Germany, where the demand for transport capacity has also grown. Thanks to this extensive pipe network, everyone can continue to rely on the availability of gas, partly thanks to the efforts of Gasunie technicians, whose motto is ‘all hands on deck’.
On Tuesday 6 January 2009, 568 million m3 was transported through the Gasunie network. In the Netherlands, 485 million m3 passed through the pipes. This means that last year’s record has been broken – on 3 January 2008, 440 million m3 was transported. Although maximum capacity has almost been reached at some points of the network, Gasunie does not anticipate any problems for the gas supply, partly due to rising temperatures. Just to make sure, the so-called LNG peak shaver in Rotterdam is on standby to be able to supply the Randstad conglomeration with extra gas if necessary. The gas itself comes from various sources; most comes from the Groningen gas field, the rest from about a hundred smaller gas fields on land and at sea and from some storage facilities. In addition, gas is being imported from Norway and a small amount from Russia too. Annually, Gasunie transports about 125 billion m3.
Gasunie says that the gas hub is operating at full speed. The situation in Eastern Europe has made it clear that it is important that the gas supply be spread over several sources. That is one of the key features of the gas hub. Gasunie is busy constructing the first LNG import terminal in the Netherlands on the Maasvlakte, Rotterdam, and is participating in the new Nord Stream pipeline being laid to transport Russian gas through the Baltic Sea to Europe from 2011. In addition, much work is being done to expand the Dutch transport network to continue to be able to facilitate the growing demand for gas. The construction of a gas storage depot in old salt caverns has started in Zuidwending (Groningen). This is one of the aspects of the gas hub that urgently needs attention – sufficient storage possibilities must be realised in the Netherlands. Our ground is particularly suited to this, and there are many ideas about how to do it. The current gas conflict between Russia and the Ukraine has made clear that an expansion of the gas storage facilities will be of strategic importance for the Netherlands in the future due to the decline in our own reserves. The decision-making on this point should be conducted fast.
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