Czechs to build new pipelines amid gas crisis fears

Tomáš Fránek
13. 3. 2010 13:38
Transport and storage system to get more interconnected and linked to Poland and Nord Stream
Na plynovodech z Východu je závislá celá EU.
Na plynovodech z Východu je závislá celá EU. | Foto: Aktuálně.cz

Hodonín - The Czech Republic is going to have another safety-catch against future gas cut-offs.

The NET4GAS company (until very recently known as RWE Transgas Net) is planning to build a new gas pipeline in the south-eastern part of the country that would connect the large underground gas storage facilities located there with the Czech pipe system.

„The pipeline is going to assure the stability of the natural gas supply and will lower the risk of shortage. It will increase the transport capacity from the underground depositories to the transport system," the company says in its note to the authorities.

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The gas storage facilities in question are located in Uhřice, Dambořice and Dolní Bojanovice municipalities, Břeclav and Hodonín districts.

The company is yet to choose one of the two possible routes - one is 17 km long, the other 20 km long. The project is due to be started in spring 2012 and should be completed in 6 months.

Crucial for energy security

The said underground depositories are among the largest in the Czech Republic, and as such they are crucial to the country's energy security. The depository in Uhřice is going to be enlarged, from current 180 million cubic meters of natural gas to 260 million cubic meters. The depository in Tvrdonice will be subjected to similar modification.

NET4GAS is planning other gas pipeline projects for the next 10 years, with estimated overall cost equaling CZK 15 billion (EUR 600 million). By the end of 2011, a 32 km-long pipeline connecting north Moravia with Poland should be completed. The joint project of NET4GAS and Polish Gaz-System was granted EUR 14 million by the EU.

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In addition, the Gazela (gazelle) pipeline connecting both wings of the Czech transit pipe system will be operable in two years.  The project whose cost is estimated at roughly CZK 10 billion (EUR 400 million) will be connected to Nord Stream, a planned sub-sea pipeline in the Baltic sea connecting Russia and Germany, and the OPAL pipeline in eastern Germany. Gazela is supposed to be 165 km long and currently a tender is issued to provide the project with pipes.

The construction of pipelines and depositories is being co-financed by the EU. The RWE Gas Storage company will get EUR 35 million of European taxpayers' money to enlarge the depositories in the Czech Republic. This project is among the 43 large project approved by the European Commission.

To avoid gas crisis

„The storage capacities will be augmented from current 700 million cubic meters to three billion cubic meters," RWE spokesman Martin Chalupský said to the Czech Press Office (ČTK), adding that the project will cost approximately CZK 700 billion (EUR 28 billion).

The EU leaders believe these are well-invested money.

„The investments into key infrastructure will not only support economy and employment, but they also help to ensure that the households are provided with heat and electricity even in case of cut-offs. The lessons we learned from the latest gas crisis are one of the reasons we decided to grant significant financial means to new energy infrastructure projects," president of the European Commission José Barroso said.

European commissioner for energy Günther Oettinger added that the EC has never before granted so much money to energy projects.


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