French, Belgian regulators approve bidirectional gas connector

French and Belgian energy regulators have approved a new interconnection point that will enable bidirectional flows of natural gas between the two European neighbors.

Eric Watkins
OGJ Oil Diplomacy Editor

LOS ANGELES, May 7 -- French and Belgian energy regulators have approved a new interconnection point that will enable bidirectional flows of natural gas between the two European neighbors.

France's CRE and Belgium's CREG approved the interconnection point at the Belgian border town of Veurne.

Currently, France receives gas from Belgium, which is reselling supplies produced by Dutch fields or imported as LNG at the Zeebrugge LNG terminal.

Following CRE and CREG approval, however, the Veurne interconnector will connect nonodorized gas coming from France with the Belgian grid, allowing 8.4-11.3 billion cu m (bcm) of imports beginning in late 2014 or early 2015.

The Franpipe from Norway currently terminates at Dunkirk in France, while a new 10-13 bcm capacity LNG terminal owned by EDF is also due to come on stream in the area in 2014.

EDF received an operating permit for its LNG terminal project in Dunkirk from the local authorities in April. Within days of the permit, Total SA reserved regasification capacity in the planned terminal and also will acquire a 10% stake in the operating company, Dunkirk LNG.

With its regasification capacity of 10-13 bcm/year, the new Dunkirk LNG terminal is expected to meet more than 20% of French gas demand. Dunkirk LNG is expected to makes its final investment decision this summer.

According to analyst BMI, the new interconnector at Veurne will provide “a potential outlet for utility EDF's planned Dunkirk LNG terminal in northern France and forms part of broader moves towards closer European energy integration.”

Contact Eric Watkins at hippalus@yahoo.com.

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