Euro gas report: IGB pipeline enters service

27 October 2022

The Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB) pipeline entered commercial service on October 1.

The Interconnector Greece-Bulgaria (IGB) pipeline entered commercial service on October 1. The commissioning of the pipeline coincided with the start of the new gas year, ahead of the winter heating season, operator ICGB said in a statement.

The IGB pipeline has an initial capacity of 105.9 Bcf/y (3 × 109 m3/y), of which 55.4 Bcf/y (1.57 × 109 m3/y) has been secured under long-term contracts of up to 25 years. It connects the Greek and Bulgarian gas transmission networks at Komotini and Stara Zagora respectively, enabling Bulgaria to receive gas from Azerbaijan that arrived in Europe via the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP).

On October 11, ICGB said that over 303,000,000 kWh of gas had been transported through the IGB during its first few days of commercial service.

Danish, Swedish investigations into Nord Stream leaks find evidence of explosions

Preliminary investigations by Danish police and Swedish investigators have found evidence that leaks from the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines were caused by explosions.

The Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines are designed to carry natural gas from Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea, though the second pipeline has never been placed into service, having been halted by Germany in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year. More recently, Russia’s Gazprom had suspended flows on Nord Stream 1, citing issues with the only turbine still operating at the Portovaya compressor station.

The company had said that service on Nord Stream would remain suspended until the turbine could be repaired. However, any hopes that flows could soon be restored now appear to have been dashed following the offshore leaks and alleged explosions.

The leaks, from four holes in both Nord Stream 1 and 2, were discovered in late September and have been under investigation by Swedish and Danish authorities. On October 18, Danish police said the damage to the pipelines had been caused by “powerful explosions,” based on preliminary investigations. This echoed earlier comments from Swedish prosecutors, who had also said two of the holes appeared to have resulted from explosions.

The Swedish investigators and various European countries have suggested the explosions had likely occurred as a result of sabotage, but have stopped short of saying who might be responsible. Moscow, for its part, has dismissed allegations that Russia might be responsible, instead blaming the US and its allies.

Further investigations are ongoing, and are expected to involve collaboration between Danish, Swedish and German authorities.

The incidents have also prompted other pipeline operators in the region to take steps to inspect and protect their own infrastructure from potential damage, though none has been found elsewhere.

GIPL successfully tested at maximum capacity

The Gas Interconnection Poland-Lithuania (GIPL) pipeline has been successfully tested at maximum capacity, Lithuania’s Amber Grid said in mid-October.

Two tests were carried out to ensure that the pipeline can transmit gas at full capacity in accordance with its technical parameters, Amber Grid said. The tests followed the commissioning of the Hołowczyce compressor station in Poland in late September, which allowed the pipeline to reach its design capacity. On the Lithuanian side, the Jauniūnai compressor station regulates the pressure of gas flows on GIPL.

Separately, Amber Grid said around the same time that it had signed a EUR3.7mn ($3.7mn) contract with DS-1 for the reconstruction of gas pipelines across various parts of Lithuania. The upgraded pipelines will be equipped with corrosion sensors.

Equinor, PGNiG strike gas sales agreement ahead of Baltic Pipe start-up

Norway’s Equinor said on September 23 that it had signed a 10-year gas sales agreement with Poland’s PGNiG. The deal covers around 84.8 Bcfy (2.4 × 109 m3/y) of gas that will be exported via the newly online Baltic Pipe project, which entered service on October 1.

The volumes under the new agreement between Equinor and PGNiG are equivalent to around 15 % of Poland’s annual gas consumption. The agreement is set to run from January 2023 until January 2033.

Baltic Pipe has the capacity to carry 353 Bcfy (1 × 1010 m3/y) of gas from Norway to Poland via Denmark and the Baltic Sea. The project forms a significant part of Poland’s strategy for putting an end to imports of Russian energy.

As well as onshore and offshore pipes, the project involved the expansion of two existing compressor stations in Poland and the construction of one new compressor station in Poland and one in Denmark.

Some parts of the project have yet to come online, though. On October 19, Denmark’s Energinet warned that the commissioning of Baltic Pipe’s receiving terminal in Nybro, Western Denmark, would be postponed until November 1 due to continuing technical challenges. The terminal will begin operating at half of its total capacity of 6,700 MWh/h before full commissioning later in 2022. It will receive gas from Norway’s Europipe II.

Enagás completes technical start-up tests for expanding gas supply capacity to France

Spain’s Enagás completed technical start-up tests at the Euskadour compressor station in Irun for the expansion of natural gas supply capacity to France in September.

According to an announcement by the Spanish Ministry of Ecological Transition, the compressor station, which is located close to the French border, can now send an additional 53 Bcfy (1.5 × 109 m3/y) to the rest of Europe via France. This represents an 18% increase in the facility’s capacity and means that it can be used to supply France with up to 6% of its gas consumption.

Following the tests, Enagás said it expected the expansion to be ready for service by November 1, in time for winter, though the ministry said the facility was technically ready if the expanded capacity was needed earlier.

The Euskadour gas pipeline links the Bahía Bizkaia Gas (BBG) regasification terminal in Bilbao and the Gaviota gas storage facility in Bermeo with the Lussagnet underground storage facility in France. The Irun station is one of two interconnections between Spain and France and its expansion will take the combined capacity between the two countries to 300 Bcfy (8.5 × 109 m3/y) of gas.

Meanwhile, France’s GRTgaz has also started shipping gas directly to Germany for the first time, as European countries collaborate to ease the crunch created by falling imports of Russian gas to Europe. After completing work to enable the reversal of flows between France and Germany, GRTgaz opened a tender for initial capacity of 31 gigawatt-hours/day in October, which may rise to up to 100 GWh/day at a later date.

France, Portugal, Spain agree to build BarMar pipeline

The governments of France, Portugal and Spain announced in mid-October that they had agreed to build an offshore pipeline to carry natural gas between Barcelona, Spain and Marseille, France. The pipeline, known as BarMar, will be built in place of a proposed extension of the MidCat pipeline between Spain and France, which has now been scrapped.

Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa said the BarMar pipeline would initially be used for the transportation of a “limited amount” of natural gas in order to help ease Europe’s energy shortages. Subsequently, it will mainly be used to transport green hydrogen and other renewable gases.

Spanish Minister for Ecological Transition Teresa Ribera subsequently told media that the pipeline would likely require 4-5 years to build. She added that a December deadline had been set for the companies tasked with building the pipeline to present a more detailed plan outlining the projected cost and duration of the project.

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