Snam, DESFA weighing their regional pipeline options

Italy’s Snam and DESFA, Greece’s natural gas grid operator, are examining their options for transportation of gas from the Greek-Turkish border to Italy’s Salento peninsula in the southeast.

Currently staging a public consultation process to gather observations and proposals – it expires on December 18 – Snam and DESFA, brought closer by an ongoing international tender offering 66 percent of DESFA in which Snam is participating, are looking at developing a plan that would enable them to use both TAP and the IGI Poseidon so as to transport both Azerbaijani and Russian gas to Europe via Turkey, Greece and Italy.

The TAP pipeline, now under construction, is designed to transport gas from the giant Shah Deniz II field in Azerbaijan to Europe, through a route crossing Greece, Albania and the Adriatic Sea, before coming ashore in Southern Italy. The IGI Poseidon, a plan by Gazprom, Edison and DEPA (Public Gas Corporation) is intended to transport natural gas from the Caspian and Russia towards Europe.

Snam and DESFA are also examining the construction of a new gas pipeline should the aforementioned combination not work.

This other gas pipeline would include include compressor stations in Evros and Komotini in Greece’s northeast, a 613-km submarine crossing from Greece to Italy, aand interconnection with the existing network on Italy’s mainland. The project’s budget has been estimated between 2.5 and 4 billion euros.

Snam is part of a consortium also including Spain’s Enagas, Belgium’s Fluxys and Dutch operator Gasunie that has submitted a bid for a 66 percent stake in DESFA, offered through a renewed tender.

Snam, which holds a 20 percent stake in the TAP (Trans Adriatic Pipeline), appears to be eyeing the wider region, not just the local market. The Italian company seems to believe in the promise offered by the southeast European market, until recently not a key part of plans set by major European corporations.

A recent article published by Italian newspaper Nuovo Quotidiano di Puglia explained that between three and four different pipelines could reach the Salento peninsula within the next two to three years and, from there, serve the entire continent. This is an important part of Snam’s planning.

The approval of an EU term permitting cross-boundary gas transportation has encouraged the Italian firm to further develop its plans.