Gas grid operator DESFA is preparing to launch a required market test for the development of a Greek-North Macedonian gas pipeline interconnection running from Nea Mesimvria, on Thessaloniki’s western outskirts, to Gevgelija, in the neighboring country’s southeast.
RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, expected to soon be informed by the operator, will need to approve the terms of this preliminary procedure.
Windows International Hellas, an enterprise controlled by Russian entrepreneur Leonid Lebedev, which, in the past, has expressed interest for a rival project, has yet to emerge with any new action.
An alternative project from Windows International Hellas would be developed as an independent gas system, whereas the DESFA proposal is planned to be incorporated into the national gas grid.
RAE approved both project plans at the beginning of this year following two years of processing and consideration.
However, DESFA was asked to conduct a market test as the cost of the project, if developed by the operator, would, as a national grid project, be passed on to users.
The project, budgeted at 48.7 million euros and planned to stretch 120 km for a 3 bcm capacity, is seen as a source-diversifying initiative.
Respective applications submitted by Windows International Hellas, an enterprise controlled by Russian entrepreneur Leonid Lebedev, and Greece’s gas grid operator DESFA for the development of a gas pipeline interconnection running from Greece’s north into North Macedonia have both been approved by RAE, the Regulatory Authority for Energy, viewing the proposals as rival initiatives.
Windows International Hellas and DESFA will now need do to battle for the project’s contract.
RAE had approved the Windows International Hellas application in December, but the news was not disclosed until now, according to sources.
DESFA has been granted conditional approval for its ten-year development plan covering 2017 to 2026, which includes the gas pipeline interconnection, a project budgeted at 48.7 million euros. Full approval remains pending and depends on the results of a required market test.
Windows International Hellas intends to develop the pipeline as an independent natural gas system, which would not burden users, whereas DESFA wants to develop the project as part of the national natural gas system, which explains why RAE has called for a market test. The test will determine if sufficient demand exists to avoid burdening users.
Windows International Hellas wants to utilize the pipeline for coverage of North Macedonia’s domestic needs. The Lebedev-led firm plans to construct a gas-fueled power station, it has been rumored.
DESFA is aiming to connect with networks in other Balkan countries through the prospective gas pipeline.
It is planned to run from Nea Mesimvria in Thessaloniki to Gevgelija in North Macedonia.
The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (Fyrom) has turned to Albania to cover its natural gas needs as a result of Greece’s failure to deliver on an agreement reached between the country’s gas grid operator DESFA and MER Skopje two years ago for the development of a pipeline interconnection linking the gas grids of the neighboring countries.
Local licensing procedure delays have been cited as a key reason behind Greece’s lack of action. RAE, Greece’s Regulatory Authority for Energy, has yet to offer its approval for the project. Also, the matter has been further complicated by an initiative from Russian entrepreneur Leonid Lebedev’s Windows International Hellas for a license to construct a natural gas pipeline from Thessaloniki to Fyrom.
Last week, Albagaz and MER Skopje signed a Memorandum of Understanding, intended to promote a gas grid interconnection plan linking Fyrom and Albania, at a ceremony in Tirana that was attended by ministers of both countries.
The bilateral pipeline plan entails branching off gas quantities from the TAP line – running through Albania and northern Greece – into the Fyrom market. Though a Fyrom-Albania investment plan is still a long way off, both sides have agreed to seek financing through EU funds.
Pundits and investors in Greece have warned that the country now stands a big chance of missing out on a major opportunity to supply gas to the Fyrom market.