GdF to expand France's LNG import capacity

April 19, 1999
Gaz de France's gas supply transit points [151,721 bytes] Rebalancing France's north-south gas network [153,381 bytes] Gaz de France has unveiled plans to expand France's liquefied natural gas import capacity as part of its continuing push to promote the nation as a key European gas hub.
Gaz de France has unveiled plans to expand France's liquefied natural gas import capacity as part of its continuing push to promote the nation as a key European gas hub.

GdF plans to increase capacity of its Montoir-de-Bretagne LNG terminal in Brittany, near Nantes, to 8 billion cu m (bcm)/year from 5.5 bcm/year to handle an extra 4 bcm of LNG imports slated to come from Nigeria beginning this October. These Nigerian supplies break out as 0.5 bcm that GdF signed contracts for in 1992 and 3.5 bcm that Italy's ENEL signed contracts for in 1997.

Roundabout system

GdF has devised a roundabout system to service the ENEL contract, which requires the cooperation of Snam, the gas utility unit of Italian state firm ENI.

Instead of transporting the gas via pipeline through France to Italy, which would have required increasing gas pipeline capacity, 1.5 bcm will be delivered from Algeria's Arzew LNG terminal to Snam's terminal at La Spezia (also called Panigaglia) in small methane carriers, as the latter port is unable to accommodate large carriers.

The remaining 2 bcm will come as exchange for GdF's Russian supplies and added to Snam's own Russian gas supplies; this exchange volume will follow the usual route transiting through Austria's TAG pipeline from Baumgarten, on the border with Hungary and Slovakia (see map, upper right). In fact, as GdF Deputy General Manager Jacques Deyirmendjian, who devised the plan, said, "Snam was the unavoidable partner."

Norwegian supplies

Separately, GdF has a 25-year contract with Snam for transit delivery of 6 bcm/year of Norwegian gas, beginning in 2001, to be delivered through the 3 billion franc natural gas pipeline called Les Marches du Nord-Est, which GdF is constructing. In all, GdF is servicing 9.5 bcm of gas for Italy's Enel and Snam.

This is in line with GdF's strategy, confirmed by Pres. Pierre Gadonneix at a recent press conference, to be a gas hub for Europe. Gadonneix pointed out that, with the recent arrival of Norwegian gas at Dunkirk, GdF had acquired its 11th delivery point for imported gas in Europe. During 1997-99, GdF will have spent 17.4 billion francs to improve transportation and distribution of imported gas in or through France.

In addition, the depletion of Lacq gas field in southwestern France calls for bolstering France's north-south main trunk line route as a substitute for the south-north trunk line route. A 120-km gas pipeline, called Art?re des Plateaux du Vexin, will be built from Gournay to St. Illiers, near Paris.

A 195-km long gas pipeline, called Art?re du Centre, will link Danz?, near Vendôme, with Roussine near Chateauroux (see map, lower right).

Other supplies

As for other potential imported gas supplies, Gadonneix indicated that the Petronet LNG project in India-unveiled in November 1997 and involving four national companies, including Gas Authority of India Ltd. and Indian Oil Corp.-is developing "at India's pace."

The four national companies have a 50% stake in the venture, and GdF will take the remaining 50% within the next few weeks. But its stake will diminish as new partners, mainly financial, come in at a later date.

The project involves two terminals, one in the north at Gujarat and the other in the south at Cochin. The 7.5 million tons/year of LNG to be imported by Petronet will most likely come from Qatar and target industry and power plants (OGJ, Jan. 18, 1999, p. 31).

Gadonneix also indicated that GdF is negotiating with Norway's Saga AS to take a stake in Visund gas field off Norway.

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