Sorgenia to regasify LNG off Italy

Uchenna Izundu
International Editor

BARCELONA, Dec. 18 -- Private Italian energy firm Sorgenia SPA has awarded a contract to Torp Technology AS to develop an offshore Italian receiving and regasification terminal that could start operations by 2014. The as-yet-undetermined import site would be off central or southern Italy.

Lars Odeskaug, chief executive of Torp Technology, told OGJ the terminal would use its HiLoad concept, a floating, L-shaped terminal that can dock with any LNG carrier to regasify the LNG offshore. No modifications are required on the LNG vessels, which would be moored via a single leg mooring system. Natural gas would then be piped to shore. The terminal would use ambient air to heat the LNG.

The baseload terminal would have a peak sendout capacity of 1.4 bcfd into Italy, and two units would feed into Italy's national grid system via 20-km of 30 in. pipelines to shore. It would take 2-3 hours to connect the carrier to the HiLoad terminal, and the ship would be emptied in 2.5 days. He said the system is half the cost of onshore terminals, but declined to give details. "HiLoad has been under development since 2000; we have a long-term view on the business and a solid capital base to work from. Companies spend typically about $1 billion for 1 bcfd of LNG regasification."

Engineering activities are under way and expected to complete in 2009. The partners will apply to the Ministero Sviluppo Economico in first-quarter 2009 and hope to receive authorization in 2011.

The first HiLoad is under construction in Haugesund, Norway, with trials scheduled for spring.

Sorgenia, which bought 6 billion cu m of gas in 2008 from the Italian market, plans to increase purchases to 8 billion cu m in 2012, importing some as LNG. Sorgenia would use all the capacity in the Italian HiLoad system and is talking to potential suppliers in Qatar, Nigeria, and North Africa. A source told OGJ the company is willing to work with partners to develop the project. However, it faces obstacles because new technology takes time to accept. In addition, it said, the LNG import permitting process in Italy is difficult.

Other import projects
Sorgenia also is pursuing an LNG project at Gioia Tauro in Calabria, which will have a regasification capacity of 12 billion cu m/year. That proposed terminal is due on stream in 2013, if approval by Italian government authorities is granted in a timely manner (OGJ Online, May, 2, 2008). The company also is considering construction of an 8-12 billion cu m/year regasification terminal at Trinitapoli in southern Italy.

The HiLoad import proposal is one of several other plans to import gas into Italy, including terminals at Rovigo, Brindisi, and Trieste; the Interconnect Greece-Italy pipeline; the Galsi pipeline; and the North Adriatic terminal, which is expected to start operations next year. If all these are built, Italy could have an oversupply of gas unless it positions itself as a transit corridor to France and Germany (OGJ Online, Dec.1, 2008).

Contact Uchenna Izundu at uchennai@pennwell.com.

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