RWE’s Sayda-Eynatten pipeline progresses but faces delay
RWE is still determined to build a major gas pipeline connecting the Czech Republic and Belgium but the project faces a delay from its original 2011–2012 start date, the utility told ICIS Heren on 16 June.
The RWE spokeswoman said the planning approval process for the pipeline was well underway as five of the six German federal states, through which the link is to run, have already finished the so called “Raumordnungsverfahren”, the regional planning procedure.
The pipeline between Sayda, on the German-Czech border, and Eynatten, on the German-Belgian border, is to provide a link to the transmission and transit systems of Transgas.net (Czech Republic), Fluxys (Belgium) and GTS (The Netherlands). It will also link into RWE’s home market, North Rhine-Westphalia. The link, running over 750km, is due to transport around 5 billion cubic metres/year (Gm3/year) of gas bidirectionally, representing 5% of annual German consumption. The costs were estimated to be in the region of €1bn.
During the planning process, the TSO submits a provisional route for the planned link, and explains its reasoning behind the proposal. The authorities carry out an assessment, and determine which route would have the least impact on the environment and the local population. Only the state of Saxony has not yet finalised this process, but is expected to do so shortly.
RWE plans Open Season
The next step, according to RWE, will be an open season to determine the commercial potential of the pipeline. At the same time, the utility will drive forward the so-called “Planfeststellungsverfahren”, during which the detailed planning documents are submitted by the company and assessed by the authorities. The necessary documents and plans are currently being prepared.
No time frame was available as to when the open season will start and the authorities could give the go-ahead for the pipeline. Getting final planning consent for major projects in Germany can take years.
Start up of pipeline delayed
The Sayda-Eynatten link is an important part of RWE’s strategy to get access to new gas sources.
The original start-up date was 2011–2012, but this is now obsolete, as the whole process has not been as smooth as RWE would have wished. According to RWE’s spokeswoman, the first gas will flow later than planned, but she refused to name a concrete date.
But the spokeswoman said that the delay was not a major problem, as the time line for the Nabucco pipeline also had to be revised. It would be advantageous to synchronise the two projects, she added.
The Nabucco pipeline is to bring gas from the Middle East and the Caspian region to south-eastern Europe which can be transported further to the north-west via the Sayda-Eynatten pipe. The final investment decision for Nabucco is expected for the first quarter of 2010. The start-up of the first phase is slated for 2013.
To make the investment commercially viable, RWE wants to apply for regulatory exemption for the Sayda-Eynatten pipeline. This is possible under German energy law, as long as the pipe serves as a transit pipeline.
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