Increasing market demand calls for expansion of gas transport network


The national transmission system operator Gas Transport Services B.V. (GTS), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Gasunie, has developed plans to expand the gas transport network in the Netherlands by 500 kms of pipelines and four compressor stations. This is expected to involve an amount of 1 to 1.5 billion euros. The expansion activities will be focused on the route from the North-East Netherlands to the South-West Netherlands.

The driver for network expansion is the increasing market demand for transport capacity, not only to enable supply of the Dutch market, but also to facilitate the transit of natural gas. This is apparent from a survey that GTS has carried out among its customers. It illustrates the increasing dynamism in the open Dutch gas market. A set of expansion measures is being prepared in order to respond swiftly to these demand developments. It is important that the expansion should be achieved in time to prevent congestion in the network.

The actual project implementation is preceded by an intensive period of decision-making and consultation. The plans have been submitted for assessment by the shareholder of Gasunie (the State of the Netherlands) and are in line with the aim of both the government and Gasunie to strengthen the role of the Netherlands as ‘the gas roundabout of North-West Europe’. The anticipated extensions will benefit the free market as well as the security of gas supply in the Netherlands and will support further development of Gasunie as a gas transport company.
The NMa/DTe too will have to express its views on the expansion plans. This regulatory authority for the energy sector is studying the plans. Its consent will be one of the decisive factors for the final investment decision.
In addition, Gasunie is actively consulting with transport companies in the neighbouring countries Belgium and Germany about expansion of cross-border gas pipelines.

The complexity of the decision-making and implementation process and the importance of timely realization require accurate planning by Gasunie and a timely response from authorities. Anticipating final investment decisions, Gasunie has already started applying for permits to construct pipelines and installations, thus preventing unnecessary loss of time. The environmental impact assessment (MER) and the permits procedure will expectedly take about three years, so that actual construction activities can start in 2009. By the end of 2010, the first part of the new transport capacity will be offered to the market. The whole project should be completed by 2012.

The expansion activities will probably be carried out on the route from the entry point Oude Statenzijl (border North-East Netherlands - Germany) to Zelzate (border South-West Netherlands - Belgium) and may include reinforcing existing pipelines as well as building new pipelines and installations. The national gas transport network currently consists of about 11,600 kms of pipelines.

Chris Glerum or Ria Gorter, Gasunie, +31 (0)50 521 26 45

The central location of the Gasunie network in North-West Europe, its quality and density, the ample possibilities for underground storage of gas in the Dutch soil, and the presence of an open gas market have enabled the Netherlands to position itself as the ‘gas roundabout’ in North-West Europe. Nearby gas stocks are decreasing, whereas long-distance gas supply is increasing in Europe. It is therefore becoming increasingly important to have a logistical pivot in this part of Europe that can not only accommodate gas flows from different supply directions, but also add flexibility. Gasunie is continuing and enhancing this strategic role, which is supported by the Dutch government as well. The company's activities include laying an underwater transport pipeline to the United Kingdom (‘BBL’), constructing caverns for underground storage, and developing plans for building a terminal for liquid natural gas (‘GATE’). A properly functioning gas roundabout will contribute to the further integration of the gas market, security of gas supply in the Netherlands, and the value of the company.

Gasunie (N.V. Nederlandse Gasunie) is an independent company engaged in activities relating to gas infrastructure and gas transport. An annual volume of over 95 billion cubic metres of gas transported across the European Union makes it one of the largest gas transporters. The company owns one of the largest high-pressure networks in Europe, which consists of about 11,600 kms of pipelines, dozens of stations and installations, and about 1,100 gas delivery stations. Since 1 July 2005, the Netherlands State has been the only shareholder.
The mission of Gasunie is to deliver safe and reliable gas transport and related services to an integrating European market - in an efficient, profitable, and sustainable manner. The internationalization of gas flows will mean that infrastructure and transport expertise have to meet strict requirements. Gasunie is a leader in these field of activity and aims to reinforce its prominent position in Europe (through the ‘gas roundabout’).

GTS (Gas Transport Services B.V., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Gasunie) has been designated as the national transmission system operator and performs a number of statutory duties. It operates independently and offers gas transport services enabling the gas market to function properly. In addition, GTS is responsible for the management, proper functioning, and development of the national pipeline network. Its clients include shippers (gas suppliers and traders), industries connected to the network, and national and international network companies.
GTS performs its statutory duties in a transparent and non-discriminatory manner.

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