Electricite de France plans LNG terminal

Uchenna Izundu
International Editor

LONDON, Oct. 10 -- Electricite de France (EDF), the partially state-owned French utility, plans to boost its gas presence in northwest Europe by building an LNG regasification terminal in northern France, taking capacity at the Gate LNG project in the Netherlands, and increasing its gas pipeline capacity through the Netherlands and Belgium. The plans are significant, considering EDF's previous focus on electricity within France and Europe.

Over the next 3 years EDF will investigate building and operating a 13.14 million-tonne/year LNG regasification terminal at Dunkirk Port in northern France. If the project proves feasible, EDF will start terminal operations by 2011.

EDF said the terminal's capacity under the first phase will be 4.38 million tonnes/year; it plans to expand this to 8.76 million tonnes/year in the second phase.

An EDF spokeswoman told OGJ that the terminal's regasified LNG under the first phase would go to France, the UK, Germany, and Belgium. "The EDF Group is looking to secure supplies for north Europe," she added.

The Dunkirk Port Authority, which focuses on the North Sea, is France's third largest third port, handling 6,300 ships a year and annual cargo traffic of more than 53.44 million tons. EDF beat four other candidates to win the LNG tender from the Dunkirk Port Authority.

EDF has also agreed with Gasunie, the Dutch gas transport network operator, to take a 10% capital stake in its Gate LNG regasification terminal in Rotterdam, which will become operational from 2010. Royal Vopak, the Dutch terminal tank operator, will reserve for EDF 2.19 million tonnes/year of regasification capacity at Gate LNG.

Gasunie subsidiary GTS and Belgian transporter Fluxys have also agreed to reserve 3 billion cu m of long-term gas capacity for EDF through the Netherlands and Belgium. "These positions are in addition to the 2 billion cu m transport capacity already acquired by the group on the interconnection between mainland Europe and the United Kingdom," EDF said.

The company said all of the additional gas supplies were important for its subsidiaries in Great Britain, Germany, and the Benelux countries where EDF and the Dutch company Delta are developing an 870 Mw combined-cycle gas turbine power plant in southwest Netherlands by 2009.

Contact Uchenna Izundu at uchennai@pennwell.com

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