It may not seem apparent at first, but DEPA’s (Public Power Corporation) drive to expand the domestic natural gas network, offering natural gas access to as many consumers as possible, as part of a new strategy adopted by the corporation, is interlinked to the prospective development of major gas infrastructure projects in the wider region, beyond the borders.
The objective of DEPA’s administration is to increase local natural gas consumption, which, it is anticipated, will provide impetus to major projects such as the TAP (Trans Adriatic Pipeline); the revised ITGI project to establish a route for Russian gas through the Southern Corridor across the Adriatic Sea to Italy; the Greek-Bulgarian IGB interconnector, and the floating LNG station in Alexandroupoli, northeastern Greece.
According to available estimates, development of the domestic natural gas network can generate a 20 percent local natural gas consumption boost by 2021 or 2022.
The network development strategy is based on three fronts. Firstly, authorities will seek to expand networks in regions within close proximity of the central transmission system. Secondly, CNG will be transported by tank trucks to remote areas where compressors will be installed and local networks developed, to the degree that consumption levels justify such an investment. Thirdly, LNG facilities will be developed at ports.
Funding for these projects is expected to be made through EU peripheral development programs, DEPA capital, and, possibly, loans from European investment banks, if this is feasible.
The expansion plan’s first stage, covering the period 2016-2025, concerns four regions – Eastern Macedonia-Thrace; mainland Greece-Evia; Central Macedonia, and western Greece. Preliminary work is most advanced for the first three of these regions. LNG transporation is planned to cover western Greece. An area at the Patras port has already been made available for a prospective LNG facility.
The new domestic natural gas network, planned to be constructed by the end of 2021, will add roughly 1,300 kilometers to its exisiting 450 kilometers.
Some 160,000 new natural gas consumer connections are expected to be made over the next decade – 140,000 for household use, 19,000 for commercial use, and 350 for industrial use.