Belgium-France interconnection project still on hold
As the Belgian parliament considers changes to the country’s gas transit legislation and the current tariff proposal still lacks the regulator’s seal of approval, network operator Fluxys has decided to hold off on negotiations with shippers for planned new interconnection capacity with France.
Fluxys and the grid operator in northern France, GRTgaz, have joined forces to build new cross-border capacity at Blaregnie and Taisnieres, set to be ready by 2012. But talks to sign binding contracts for this capacity have been suspended since the start of the year as there is no clarity on future gas tariffs in Belgium.
The Belgian parliament is currently discussing a proposal to clarify the country’s gas act, which was passed back in1965. The law needs to be changed so that the network operator can hold capacity auctions in line with the EU directive, the proposal states.
Carrying out these changes will take time, however. A government spokesman said the target date was late 2008, but current political turmoil in Belgium after the ruling party’s failure to form a government almost a year after the general elections, now looks set to delay this.
In the meantime, a new four-year gas tariff regime, meant to come into force at the start of the year, has still not materialised, six months later.
The recent transit tariffs imposed by regulator CREG on gas transit applies only to existing infrastructure, not planned pipelines, a Fluxys spokeswoman explained. The grid operator is now in the process of reformulating a proposal for new tariffs for existing pipelines, for the third time, after CREG rejected an already revised version submitted in March.
“There is no decision on transit tariffs for new infrastructure. The Parliament is discussing new legislation and we have launched legal appeals against CREG’s decision to impose lower transit tariffs for existing infrastructure. All those elements are important [when striking contracts for the new cross-border capacity], so we can’t start discussions with shippers yet,” the Fluxys spokeswoman said.
She could not say whether these delays had postponed the target start-up date for the new capacity at Taisnieres and Blaregnie, currently set at 2012.
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