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    France OKs Strategic New Pipe



French gas grid operator GRTgaz said May 18 it has been cleared by the government to build the strategic Val de Saone pipeline project.

by: Mark Smedley

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France OKs Strategic New Pipe

French gas grid operator GRTgaz said May 18 that it has been cleared by the government to build and operate the Val de Saone pipeline project.

The project costing €727mn aims to develop transmission capacities in order to create a single wholesale gas market in France by 2018 and thereby give consumers easier access to the most competitive sources of gas. On a European level, the programme will streamline flows between the marketplaces in northern and southern Europe, improving security of supply.

The project involves construction of a new north-south 188-km gas pipeline in eastern France, with a diameter of 1.2 meters, linking Voisines (Haute-Marne region) and Etrez (Ain), the creation of a new interconnection station and a reinforcement to the existing compressor station at its Etrez site, as well as renovation work to the existing interconnection stations in Voisines and Palleau (Saone-et-Loire).

In concrete terms, the new pipe should reduce the risk of price spikes in southern France and ease future bottlenecks into that region, which in the past has been over-reliant on LNG arriving at the port of Fos and therefore been easily disrupted by storms there or in Algeria's ports or by unscheduled outages at the Algerian LNG plants. It will do so by enabling Norwegian, Russian or other gas, including regas from the 13bn m3/yr Dunkirk LNG import terminal in northern France opening this summer, to flow north-to-south.

Official approval was given by France's environment ministry on April 22 but it was only gazetted in France's official journal on May 18. Most of the construction work will take place in 2017-18, with remaining surveys and preliminary work undertaken this year. GRTgaz however was unable to provide the Val de Saone pipe's annual capacity as NGE went to press.

France-to-Belgium pipe opening May 27

GRTgaz has two strategic pipeline projects nearing completion in northern France.

Its 309km, 1.2m-diameter Arc de Dierrey pipeline will be fully completed this year – connecting Voisines (Haute-Marne) southeast of Paris to Cuvilly (Oise) to the north of the capital and onward to St Julien-Dierrey – at a cost of some €900mn. It connects to the Val de Saone project at Voisines.

Also a package of other new pipelines are being completed around the Dunkerque LNG terminal in time for the latter's start-up this summer. These GRTgaz pipes have cost a further €900mn and include the Hauts de France 2 pipe, Pitgam interconnection station, and Flanders Artery.

Flanders Artery is a reversible-flow 23km pipe that is to be inaugurated May 27 by GRTgaz and its Belgian counterpart Fluxys that will enable gas to be flowed from France to Belgium for the first time. In the past, this Hondschoote/ Alveringem border crossing has only been an entry point into France for gas coming from Belgium (such as from gas from Netherlands, Norway, UK, and regasified LNG).

The EDF-led Dunkirk LNG terminal itself has cost about €1bn.


Mark Smedley