Projects of over Eur 1.5 Bn: Development of the gas transmission infrastructure
- Written by Adrian Stoica
The National Gas Transmission Company Transgaz SA Medias aims at achieving major investment projects, so that by the year 2023, with the necessary interconnections, Romania would have several options to importing natural gas. Through regional terminals of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Greece, Croatia and Poland, the Romanian market will be able to purchase gas from the Levantine Basin (eastern Mediterranean) and, through the interconnection Bulgaria - Romania, Caspian gas will be imported from the Southern Gas Corridor. Also, another priority of the company is building the infrastructure to bring natural gas from the Black Sea.
The priorities set by Transgaz for developing the natural gas transmission infrastructure are included in the company’s ten-year development plan for 2014 - 2023. The value of the plan is estimated to EUR 1.5 billion and it will be covered 35% from own resources, which means about EUR 525 million and 65%, EUR 975 million respectively, will be covered by raised funds. The NTS total projected capacity is 30 billion cubic metres/year (excluding international transport pipelines for gas, whose aggregate designed capacity is 27.7 billion cubic meters per year and have a total technical capacity, at the current operating pressure, of 21.35 bcm/year). The transmission and international transmission capacity of natural gas is provided through a network of pipelines and fittings for gas supply with diameters between 50 mm and 1,200 mm at pressures between 6 and 63 bar. Although the asset base is outdated, as over 71% of the 13,112 km of gas pipelines require rehabilitation and modernization, the NTS technical condition is maintained at an appropriate level. The compression capability is provided by five gas compression stations located on the main transmission routes, which have an installed capacity of about 32 MW, with an annual capacity of compression of 5.5 billion cubic meters.
The main components of the National Transmission System (NTS):
• 3,112 km of transmission pipelines and supply fittings for natural gas supply, of which 553 km - international transmission pipelines for natural gas;
• 1,119 gas regulation and metering stations;
• Six gas metering stations for international transmission;
• Three metering stations for natural gas imports (Isaccea, Mediesu Aurit, Csanadpalota);
• 1,007 cathodic protection stations;
• 48 valve control stations and/or connection points.
The current development plan for the Romanian natural gas transmission system includes major projects aimed at reconfiguring the gas transmission network which, although extended and complex, was designed in a time when the emphasis was laid on natural gas supply to large industrial consumers and on making possible their access to resources concentrated mostly in the central regions and in Oltenia region, and to the sole source of imports. The identification of projects needed to be developed in the national gas transmission system started from the main requirements that must be provided by the current dynamic natural gas regional market.
Given the latest developments and trends in the field of natural gas transmission routes in Europe, the existence of two new sources of supply becomes obvious: natural gas from the Caspian region and from the sources discovered in the Black Sea. Its geostrategic position and the primary energy resources can help Romania become a significant player in the region, on condition it keeps the pace with the technological progress and on condition it will be able to get the needed financing. In this respect, by implementing the proposed projects for the development and modernization of gas transmission infrastructure, through the implementation of intelligent systems of control, automation, communications and network management, Transgaz aims both to maximize energy efficiency in the entire activities chain and to set up an intelligent, efficient, reliable and flexible natural gas transmission system.
The network management can be improved through the concept of “Smart energy transmission”, applicable also to the “Smart gas transmission systems” intelligent gas transmission grids, which will manage the issues of safety and intelligent use of instruments in the field of pressure, flow, metering, interior inspection of pipes, freshener, cathodic protection, anticipatory reactions, traceability, all resulting in increased flexibility in operating the system, improving the integrity and operational safety and, consequently, in increased energy efficiency.
The Southern Corridor development
At European level a number of major projects allowing diversification of gas supply to Europe are currently being implemented, by transporting natural gas extracted from the fields in the Caspian Sea to Central Europe. They aim at amplifying the South Caucasus Pipeline, the construction of the Trans-Anatolian Pipeline (TANAP), the building of the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), the building of Greece - Bulgaria interconnector (IGB). By implementing these projects, the possibility of transporting large volumes of gas from the Caspian Sea to the southern border of Romania is created. In these circumstances it is necessary to adapt the National Gas Transmission System to the new prospects by expanding the natural gas transmission capacity between the existing interconnection points of the Romanian natural gas transmission system with the one of Bulgaria (at Giurgiu) and the one of Hungary (at Nadlac).
Bulgaria – Romania – Hungary – Austria corridor
The project “Development on Romanian territory of the National Gas Transmission System for the Bulgaria - Romania - Hungary - Austria corridor” aims to develop the system of transmission capacity between the interconnections of the Romanian natural gas transmission system and the similar systems of Bulgaria and Hungary. More precisely it consists in building a new pipeline to transport natural gas in view of connecting Podisor with GMS (gas metering station) Horia. This project has become a necessity in the second half of 2013; this explains why the project was not envisaged for the European TYNDP for the 2013 - 2022.
However, the European Commission decided in the last minute to include it on the list of projects of joint interest to provide an alternative as to diversify the supply sources for the Member States affected by the deselecting of the Nabucco project. The deadline for the project’s completion would be 2019, and its value is estimated to EUR 560 million. Given the status of the project of joint interest, Transgaz intends to attract a grant through the “Connecting Europe Facility”. In this regard an application has been submitted in the first session for submission of applications to obtain a grant for the design studies of the three compressor stations included in the project. The estimated value of these studies is approximately EUR 3 million and the grant may reach 50% of this amount.
The transmission of natural gas from the Black Sea coast
Given that Europe is becoming increasingly dependent on imports of natural gas, the access to new sources becomes an imperative. Surveys and assessments conducted so far have shown there are significant natural gas deposits in the Black Sea. Under these circumstances the development of transport infrastructure for natural gas in Romania from the Black Sea to the Romania - Hungary border is one of the major priorities of Transgaz.
The project became a priority for Transgaz in the second half of 2013, due to the need to ensure adequate transmission capacities for natural gas from the Black Sea to the Central European markets. Being a new project, which was not included in TYNDP 2013 - 2022 (document issued in 2012), it aims to build a transmission pipeline from the Black Sea to Podisor connection point (Giurgiu County) which would connect the available offshore gas from the Black Sea to the Bulgaria - Romania - Hungary - Austria corridor. The project will be included in the 2015 - 2024 edition of TYNDP and will also be proposed to be included in the second list of projects of joint European interest. The deadline for the completion of the project would be 2019, and its value is estimated to EUR 262.4 million.
Interconnection with international transmission pipelines
Transgaz has a particular interest in implementing this project in order to eliminate the possibility of some very expensive financial penalties from the European Commission, but also to ensure it gets substantial revenues by harnessing these capabilities after the “take or pay” contracts expire. The project will consist in upgrading and increasing the Silistea compressor station, in modernizing and increasing the Onesti compressor station, in operating changes within the Isaccea metering station and in rehabilitating the pipeline sections Cosmesti - Onesti (66.2 km) and Silistea - Sendreni (11.3 km). Currently Transgaz started the pre-feasibility study; the completion of execution is envisaged for 2018. The estimated value of the investment amounts to EUR 65 million.
NTS development in North-Eastern Romania
Given the need to improve gas supply in North-Eastern Romania and taking into account the perspective offered by the new interconnector between Romania and Republic of Moldova, by providing transmission capacity to Republic of Moldova, a number of developments are needed for the Romanian natural gas transmission system, so that the appropriate technical parameters are met. The first phase of the project is to build the Gheraesti - Letcani natural gas pipeline and second stage of the project is to develop the NTS transmission capacity to ensure the gas flow in the direction Romania - Republic of Moldova. The deadline for the project is 2017, and the total estimated investment is EUR 110 million.
The Central Corridor development
Depending on the volume of gas available from the Black Sea coast, on the long term it is intended to develop the transmission capacity for the central corridor Isaccea - Sendreni - Onesti - Coroi - Hateg - Horia. Currently Transgaz has started a pre-feasibility study for the development of the natural gas transmission Central Corridor, in order to optimize and to make more efficient both the implementation process and the possible attraction of co-grants. The Central Corridor was divided into three projects, their implementation being meant to achieve the objectives set for this natural gas transmission corridor.
The three projects are:
- The interconnection between the national transmission system and the international transmission system and to ensure the reverse flow at Isaccea;
- To ensure the reverse flow at the Romania - Hungary interconnection;
- To develop NTS between Onesti and Bacia.
The deadline is 2023 and the estimated value of the investment amounts to EUR 544 million.