GRTgaz to expand French gas transmission system

Doris Leblond
OGJ Correspondent

PARIS, Feb. 4 -- Gaz de France natural gas transmission subsidiary Gestionnaire du Reseau de Tranport (GRTgaz) has sold capacity on a future North-South balancing zone link for a 2 to 4-year period.

Two years ago France established the four gas-balancing zones, where virtual gas exchange points act as trading hubs, similar to the UK's National Balancing Point (OGJ, Nov. 13, 2006, p. 56). GRTgaz will merge its East, West, and North balancing zones from 2009.

The open season is part of GRTgaz's €5.7 billion, 10-year investment program to expand its gas transmission network (OGJ Online, June 29, 2007).

Available capacity on the link, accounting for half of its total firm capacity, was oversubscribed, spokeswoman Nadine Salaris told OGJ. "We could have sold 4-5 times more." She said 21 shippers took part in the open season, doubling the number of shippers from the North of France gaining access to GRTgaz' southern zone.

GRTgaz will hold another open season to assess requirements, examine methods of increasing capacity from north to south, and devise methods for reserving longer-term capacity. "Players who oversubscribed for future capacity are aware of GRTgaz's extensive gasline transmission projects." said Salaris.

GRTgaz' development plans involve installing or upgrading 5 more compressor stations on its gas pipeline system. In late September, it brought on stream the Cuvilly compressor station at the intersection of the Hauts-de-France gasline from Dunkrik and the Nord I & II gaslines fromTainieres-sur-Hon at the Belgian border.

Salaris anticipates that, as the other four stations gradually come on line, more players will be able to access the French gas market.

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